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Migraine Frequency and Intensity:
Relationship With Disability and Psychological Factors
Jane E. Magnusson, PhD; Werner J. Becker, MD
Posted: January 2004  
Headache 2003;43:1049-1059

Background:   Migraine can be disabling, but it varies greatly in frequency and intensity between individuals. It is not clear which clinical features have the greatest impact on a migraineurís quality
of life.

Objective:   To determine the influence of headache intensity and frequency on headache-related disability.

Results:   In our patient population, higher mean headache intensity levels were associated with higher levels of headache-related disability. Our results also suggested that increased headache intensity is associated with higher levels of depression and emotional distress, although this correlation was statistically significant in only 1 of 4 comparisons. Headache frequency did not correlate with disability, depression, or emotional distress.

Conclusions:   For a headache referral population, headache intensity appears to be a major determinant of headache-related disability, and it also correlates, to some extent, with the degree of depression and emotional distress present. Headache frequency was not clearly related to disability or psychological factors.