Get access

The Examination of Headache Activity Using Time-Series Research Designs


  • Timothy T. Houle PhD,

  • Thomas A. Remble MS,

  • Thomas A. Houle PhD

  • From the Center for Pain Studies, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago/Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL (Dr. Timothy Houle); Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL (Mr. Remble); and Devereux-Glenholme Foundation and Houle Psychology Clinic, Southbury, CT (Dr. Thomas Houle).

Address all correspondence to Timothy T. Houle, PhD, Center for Pain Studies, 446 E. Ontario, Suite 1011, Chicago, IL 60611.


The majority of research conducted on headache has utilized cross-sectional designs which preclude the examination of dynamic factors and principally rely on group-level effects. The present article describes the application of an individual-oriented process model using time-series analytical techniques. The blending of a time-series approach with an interactive process model allows consideration of the relationships of intra-individual dynamic processes, while not precluding the researcher to examine inter-individual differences. The authors explore the nature of time-series data and present two necessary assumptions underlying the time-series approach. The concept of shock and its contribution to headache activity is also presented. The time-series approach is not without its problems and two such problems are specifically reported: autocorrelation and the distribution of daily observations. The article concludes with the presentation of several analytical techniques suited to examine the time-series interactive process model.