|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 — The use of headache calendars may enable individuals who regularly experience migraine, tension-type, or cluster headaches to better identify particular triggers that are associated with headache attacks. This research was presented at the American Headache Society’s 60th Annual Scientific Meeting, held June 27 –July 1, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
This cross-sectional, observational study sought to evaluate the accuracy of individuals with headache to appraise the relationship between potential trigger factors and headache events. The study sample included 300 adults currently experiencing cluster, migraine, or tension-type headaches and who had experienced more than 5 headache attacks. The participants were presented with headache calendars in which they rated the relationship strength between 3 defined triggers and headaches from 0 to 10. In addition, participants reported their previous beliefs regarding the relationship between specific triggers and the degree of headache activity.
Study results showed that a high positive correlation between the trigger and headache event received higher ratings, and low correlation between events received lower ratings. However, the subjects often ignored negative associations — when triggers were present without headache — and gave a higher rating on days they experienced headache regardless of the actual association strength of the trigger. In fact, the study investigators found that the participants’ previous beliefs affected their ratings: A 25% increase in the strength of assumed associations was linked to a 0.2-point increase in the 0 to 10 strength rating.
Despite the bias by the participants in their previous beliefs about triggers and headache, “individuals with headache were able to identify associations between headaches and triggers when presented with headache calendars.”
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Turner D, Houle TT. Accuracy of appraisal of headache trigger patterns using calendars. Presented at: 2018 American Headache Society Annual Scientific Meeting. June 27–July 1, 2018; San Francisco, CA. Abstract 449906.