Personality Trait Differences Shown Between Patients With Migraine, Medication-Overuse Headache

Researchers found data that showed women who are introverts have a propensity toward medication-overuse headache, rather than migraines.

Patients with migraine showed differences in several personality traits compared with patients with medication-overuse headache (MOH), according to a study published in Acta Neurologica Scandinavica.

In this single-center survey concerning personality traits, researchers evaluated patients aged 18 to 65 years with diagnosed episodic migraine (n=131) and MOH (n=98) at the headache clinic at the University Hospital of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark. Personality traits were assessed using the internationally recognized Revised NEO Personality Inventory questionnaire. The 6-item questionnaire is standardized and validated, using traits defined by 12 items that are answered on a 5-point Likert scale.

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Patients with MOH (n=94) and episodic migraine (n=94) were matched on age and included in analyses. When compared with the normative sample, the MOH group had a significantly higher score on neuroticism (P <.01), but no differences were found with the migraine group (P =.18). Both groups had significantly lower extraversion scores when compared with the normative sample (P <.01). The MOH group had a lower score compared with the normative sample for openness and agreeableness (P <.01 for both), but there were no differences between the migraine group and the normative sample. In regard to conscientiousness, the MOH group had a significantly lower score compared with the normative sample (P <.01), whereas the migraine group had a significantly higher score than the normative sample (P <.01).

Limitations of this study include the use of a brief questionnaire rather than the longer NEO Personality Inventory Revised questionnaire, which would have enabled investigation of personality and the 5 dominant traits according to the 5-factor model of personality.

Women with MOH appeared to be more introverted and less socially-oriented than women with migraine, while men had more comparable personality traits across diagnostic groups. If this information were to be confirmed in larger studies, it could be used to tailor treatment planning and management of patients with headache in clinical practice.

One author acknowledges conflicts of interest. Please see reference for the full list of disclosures.


Mose LS, Pedersen SS, Jensen RH, Gram B. Personality traits in migraine and medication-overuse headache: A comparative study [published online April 30, 2019]. Acta Neurol Scand. doi: 10.1111/ane.13111