Headache and migraine sufferers are being asked to self manage their own treatment as part of new research at Griffith University.

Headache disorders are among the most common disorders of the nervous system, causing substantial disability in populations throughout the world.

It has been estimated that globally, the percentage of the adult population with an active headache disorder are 46% for headache in general, 11% for migraine, 42% for tension-type headache and 3% for chronic daily headache.

Practical considerations

While research into Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy (CBT) and Learning to Cope with Triggers (LCT) Therapy have so far provided promising results for headaches and migraines, there are practical considerations for patients which need to be addressed, says research leader Professor Paul Martin from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

“The trouble for some people is that there can be a whole variety of problems in undertaking the eight sessions that are required with a psychologist to help them overcome headaches or migraines,” he says. “Time constraints can make it awkward for someone to commit to that number of sessions or there may not even be the availability with a psychologist if someone lives in a particularly remote or regional area.

“Additionally, there can also be a cost issue for some people given that Medicare does not cover headaches as part of its Mental Health treatment plan.”

Professor Martin says the research has involved developing an online self-help version of its original manual for psychologists, so that headache sufferers can work through the treatment program at home, when it suits them.

Self-help versions have been developed for each type of treatment which takes participants through a series of questionnaires and assignments related to their health, wellbeing and other factors which may be influencing their health.

The self-help also includes an app which allows participants in the study to use an electronic headache diary to record daily ratings of head pain.

“Obviously there is the challenge that some people may drop out of these sessions, but overall we anticipate promising results,” says Professor Martin.

The research team is currently looking to recruit male and female participants into the study aged 18 plus. Participants must experience at least four headache/migraine episodes per month. Please email [email protected] for further information.