• migraine;
  • chronic daily headache;
  • relaxation;
  • inpatient;
  • depression

Objective.–To evaluate prospectively the contribution of a psychological self-management program to the amelioration of headache-related distress of patients with intractable migraine treated in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, inpatient program.

Background.–Previous research has shown the effectiveness of this overall inpatient program but did not examine the relationships between the use of relaxation and other headache-related behavioral factors.

Methods.–Data from 221 admissions to a Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities-accredited, nationally recognized, inpatient treatment unit were analyzed for the current study. On admission and on discharge (average length of stay, 12.9 days), subjects completed a 7-day retrospective, self-report questionnaire assessing health behavior compliance and emotional factors. The intervention consisted of intensive medical therapy in addition to cognitive-behavioral treatment delivered in a group setting.

Results.–Adherence increased significantly for relaxation practice and life-style modifications of diet, exercise, and sleep regulation for headache prevention (P<.00001). Beck Depression Inventory scores decreased significantly (P<.00001), and a greater decrease in depression by the end of the program was reported by subjects who practiced relaxation most compared with those who practiced relaxation least.

Conclusions.–Low baseline adherence rates for health behavior increased significantly during the final week of inpatient treatment. Behavioral self-management variables, not headache reduction, were significantly associated with patients' reduction in affective distress.