Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Chronic Headache: Group Versus Individual Treatment Format


  • Patrick R. Johnson Ph.D.,

    1. From the Multidisciplinary Pain Center and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195 (P.R.J.), and the
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  • Beverly E. Thorn Ph.D.



Two hypotheses were tested in this study: (1) that a short course of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in the treatment of chronic headache; and (2) that group CT is as effective as individually administered CBT. Twenty-two chronic headache sufferers were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions: group administered CBT, individually administered CBT, or no treatment (wait list) control. Wait list subjects ultimately received treatment identical to that offered to subjects in the group treatment condition. Treatment outcome measures included the Brief Symptom Inventory, the McGill Pain Questionnaire, and several measures calculated from self-monitoring data. Tentative support was found for the hypothesis that CBT as provided in this study is effective in the treatment of chronic headache. There was no evidence that group versus individually treated subjects differed significantly on any of the measures used, although the small N and large variance among subjects limit us to preliminary conclusions for our findings. Clinical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.