Perfectionists' Appraisal of Daily Hassles and Chronic Headache


  • Shauna Bottos Hons. BA,

  • Deborah Dewey PhD

  • From the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Address all correspondence to Dr. Deborah Dewey, Department of Pediatrics, Behavioral Research Unit, Alberta Children's Hospital, 1820 Richmond Road, S.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2T 5C7.


Objective.—To investigate the relationships between daily hassles, perfectionism, and the experience of chronic headache among university students.

Background.—Headaches are very common among university students. It has been found that a higher number of hassles reported by students is associated with an increase in headache activity. It has also been suggested that individuals higher in perfectionism appraise more situations as hassles, and that this dispositional characteristic may constitute a risk factor for the experience of chronic headaches.

Methods.—A total of 291 university students completed three questionnaires: (1) the Headache Assessment Questionnaire that was utilized to obtain information on headache occurrence and its features, (2) the Brief College Student Hassles Scale, and (3) the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale.

Results.—A total of 18 students (6.2%) met the 2004 IHS criteria for chronic headaches, 179 (61.5%) met the criteria for frequent headaches, and 69 (23.7%) met the criteria for infrequent headaches. Students with chronic headaches reported significantly more stress, as measured by daily hassles. They also exhibited higher levels of perfectionism. The number of hassles reported was a significant predictor of headache frequency, intensity, and duration. Analyses also revealed that perfectionism was a significant predictor of headache frequency and intensity.

Conclusions.—The present study indicates that there is a relationship between perfectionism and chronic headache in university students, with those higher in perfectionism experiencing more frequent headaches. This investigation confirmed the relationship between daily hassles and chronic headache in this population. The results also suggest that perfectionists may generate their own stress through their tendency to appraise more situations as hassles. This, in turn, may explain their tendency to experience chronic headaches.