Chronic Migraine Burden Has Significant Impact on Relationships, Family Life

mother with headache and child jumping in background
mother with headache and child jumping in background
The CaMEO study is a prospective, longitudinal web-based survey designed to characterize the impact of migraine on aspects of quality of life.
The following article is part of conference coverage from the 2018 American Headache Society Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, California. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from AHS 2018.

SAN FRANCISCO — Patients with chronic migraine are more likely to attribute relationship problems to their headache burden compared with patients with episodic migraine, according to data from the CaMEO study presented at the 2018 American Headache Society Annual Scientific Meeting, June 28-July 1, 2018, in San Francisco, California.

“When you see the magnitude” of how far reaching the affects of migraine are throughout the family, “it’s staggering,” study co-author Dawn Buse, PhD, associate professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College
of Medicine of Yeshiva University and assistant professor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University, told Neurology Advisor. “Migraine doesn’t discriminate; it strikes when it wants to and whatever you had going on that day is just cancelled, or you struggle through and you’re not present the way that you would like to be.”

Data from 13,064 respondents with migraine were included in the analysis. Respondents answered questions regarding relationships with their spouse or significant other, as well as their relationship with children at home.

Overall, 3189 respondents indicated that they were not currently in a relationship. Among those, patients with chronic migraine were more likely to suggest that headaches contributed to relationship problems (37%) compared with those with episodic migraine (15%; P <.001). Among those in a relationship but not living together (n=1323), 43.9% with chronic migraine reported that headaches were the root cause of some relationship concerns or were preventing them from developing a closer relationship with their significant other, including moving in together or getting married vs 15.8% of those with episodic migraine (P <.001). Surprisingly, nearly 50% of respondents with chronic migraine said that their headaches resulted in at least 1 previous relationship ending or having problems (P <.001).

Among those in a relationship and living together (n=8127), 78.2% of patients with chronic migraine agreed that they would be a better partner if not for their headaches, compared with 46.2% of patients with episodic migraine (P <.001). Another significant finding was that nearly 10% of respondents with chronic migraine said they had delayed having or had fewer children as a result of their headache burden (compared with 2.6% with episodic migraine; P <.001). Notably, no significant differences across responses were recorded between men and women.

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“As a clinician, it’s important to remember that migraine imposes a significant burden on all aspects of life, and it’s a good thing to ask about because disability should inform our treatment planning; not only is it going to help the clinician perhaps design a more comprehensive treatment plan, but it might help the patient to be more open and adherent to trying additional, new treatments, which may include a preventive pharmacological agent, a behavioral treatment,” Dr Buse said. Talking about migraine burden “may actually help make the patient realize [the impact] and be more open to trying additional treatments beyond acute medication.”

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Buse D, Dumas PK, Murray S, et al. Life with migraine, effect on relationships: results of the Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes (CaMEO) study. Presented at: 2018 American Headache Annual Scientific Meeting. June 28-July 1, 2018; San Francisco, CA. Abstract 448833.