Fear of Pain in Recurrent Headache Sufferers


  • Karl G. Hursey Ph.D.,

  • S. Daniel Jacks M.S.



We investigated the role of fear of pain in headache sufferers using the Fear of Pain Questionnaire (FPQ). Seventy-six headache sufferers and 58 controls completed the FPQ and measures of depression, anxiety, and anger. Headache sufferers also completed measures of stress-related physical symptoms and coping with pain. We found that the FPQ has excellent internal consistency as well as good concurrent and construct validity indicated by the high correlations between the FPQ subscales and both anxiety and depression but low correlations with anger. There were marked differences between headache sufferers and controls on the FPQ; headache sufferers showed much greater fear of severe and medical pain and lower fear of minor pain. Fear of pain was generally not related to headache characteristics such as frequency, severity, or duration. On the other hand, it was related to headache impact such as disruption of pleasurable activities. These results are consistent with models of chronic pain disorders which emphasize the role of fear of pain over the nociceptive intensity of the pain stimulus.