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Factors Influencing Treatment-Seeking Behavior In Problem Headache Sufferers


Lori A. Rokicki, M.S., The University of Mississippi Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216



Subject samples used in research on recurrent headache disorders typically are composed of individuals who are seeking or receiving treatment. To the extent such subjects are unrepresentative of the larger population of recurrent headache sufferers, the external validity of findings may be jeopardized. We examined young recurrent (tension-type or migraine) headache sufferers and compared individuals who had sought treatment (N=81) and individuals who had not sought treatment (N=109) for their headache problem. Subjects who did not experience headaches (N=129) served as a comparison group. Recurrent headache sufferers who had sought treatment reported more frequent headaches and experienced problem headaches for a longer period of time than recurrent headache sufferers who had not sought treatment for their headaches. However, the two treatment-seeking groups did not differ on measures of psychological symptoms, coping strategies, or beliefs about their headache disorder. Irrespective of whether they had sought treatment or not sought treatment for their headache problems, recurrent headache sufferers reported higher levels of depression and physical symptoms than comparison subjects. These results provide no support for the hypothesis that psychological symptoms or neuroticism are associated with treatment-seeking behavior in recurrent headache sufferers.