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Coping Style and Social Support in Men and Women Suffering From Cluster Headache or Migraine


Address all correspondence to Dr. Vanja Blomkvist, National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health, PO Box 230, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Objective.—To investigate similarities and differences between patients with cluster headache and patients with migraine.

Background.—Patients with migraine and patients with cluster headache are considered, by many clinical neurologists, to be different psychologically and socially.

Methods.—Twenty-five age-matched pairs of men and 24 age-matched pairs of women with either migraine or episodic cluster headache (men aged 31 to 62 years; mean, 47 years; women aged 23 to 72 years; mean, 44 years) were compared with regard to coping profiles as reflected in two “coping wheels,” one for the present situation and one for the future. In addition, availability of attachment and social interaction was assessed by means of the ISSI (Interview Schedule for Social Interaction).

Results.—Women with cluster headache anticipated fewer activities for themselves than women with migraine, and findings were similar in the male pairs. The men with cluster headache also anticipated significantly fewer activities for themselves in the present and with others in the present and in the future than the men with migraine. There was no significant difference as to emotional loading between the two groups. A tendency to more optimistic anticipation was found in the women with cluster headache. There were highly significant differences between the two groups in the “future” wheel. The group with migraine expected more concrete activities and more activities with their families in the future, and they also described their present situation to involve more activities with others.

Conclusion.—Results from the present study differ from those from studies utilizing more conventional questionnaires. In particular, we found that patients with cluster headache have fewer close social contacts than patients with migraine.