Suggestions for a Biopsychosocial Approach to Treating Children and Adolescents Who Present With Headache

Authors

  • Scott W. Powers PhD, ABPP,

  • Deborah Kruglak Gilman PhD,

  • Andrew D. Hershey MD, PhD


  • From the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH (Dr. Powers); Department of Psychology, Columbus Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH (Dr. Gilman); Division of Neurology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH (Dr. Hershey); and Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH (Drs. Powers and Hershey).

Address all correspondence to Dr. Scott Powers, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, MLC 2015, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039.

Abstract

An evidence-based, biopsychosocial approach to the care of pediatric patients who present with the complaint of headache is recommended. This approach informs diagnosis and management decisions, is critical for maximizing adherence to the prescribed headache treatment regimen, and incorporates assessment of the impact of headache on a child/adolescent's quality of life, disability, and emotional functioning. Very often, successful treatment of headache leads to improvements in disability and emotional functioning. When this is not the case, or when the work-up shows that comorbid headache and psychiatric disorders are present for a patient, a more comprehensive treatment approach that includes the active collaboration of pediatric specialists in headache care and mental health care is warranted.

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