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A Retrospective, Comparative Study on the
Frequency of Abuse in Migraine and
Chronic Daily Headache
Peterlin BL, Ward T, Lidicker J, Levin M.
Posted: July 2007  
Headache 2007;47:397-401

Objective:   To assess and contrast the relative frequency of a past history of physical and/or sexual abuse in patients with chronic daily headache (CDH) versus migraine.

Background:   A number of risk factors have been identified as risk factors for chronification of headache disorders. Limited data exist regarding the influence of physical and/or sexual abuse on primary headache disorders.

Methods:   This was a retrospective chart review of 183 consecutive new headache patients seen from December 2004 through August 2005 at an outpatient tertiary-care center. Patients were included in the study if they had chronic daily headache (with criteria for medication over-use headache or chronic migraine), or migraine with or without aura. A history of physical and/or sexual abuse was systematically asked of all headache patients at their first visit in the clinic. This information was then transferred to a semi-standardized form and the relative frequency of abuse in both groups contrasted.

Results:   Of the 161 patients included in the study, 90.1% were female with a mean age of 36.4. A total of 59% of the patients were diagnosed with CDH and 41% were diagnosed with migraine. Overall, 34.8% of all patients, 40% of the CDH patients, and 27.3% of migraine patients had a history of physical and/or sexual abuse. The relative frequency of a history of physical and/or sexual abuse was higher in the CDH group as compared to the migraine group.

Conclusion:   The relative frequency of abuse is higher in CDH sufferers than migraineurs, suggesting that physical and sexual abuse may be risk factors for chronification.