A Comparative Study of Selected Patient Variables as Risk Factors in Hospitalization for Chronic Headache


Sylvia Sullivan Villarreal, BA, MEd, MPH, Houston Headache Clinic, 1213 Hermann Drive, Suite 350, Park Plaza Professional Building, Houston, TX 77004.


Patients seeking relief for chronic headache at specialized headache treatment centers are offered a multidisciplinary approach to treating their disorder. Neurologists, who specialize in headache, offer both inhospital and outpatient treatment programs. Clinicians and researchers experienced in headache disorders have advocated inpatient treatment for certain patients. Hospital programs address such issues as elevated anxiety and depression levels, overuse of analgesics, and related factors. This study was undertaken to investigate those differences, long observed by clinicians, between patients assigned to inpatient or outpatient care or to both. In view of the ever-tightening purse strings of third-party payers, the results may aid in delineating some of the forthcoming practice guidelines for dealing with headache sufferers. This study suggests: (a) significant differences do exist between the groups, (b) hospitalized patients may indeed require more complex interventions than those managed with outpatient care, and (c) documenting some of the etiologic factors that predict hospitalization may help alert providers at the front end and preclude some of the current need for hospital care.