[Headache in children and adolescents. Epidemiology, biopsychosocial correlates, and psychological treatment approaches].

Research paper by B B Kröner-Herwig

Indexed on: 06 Jul '14Published on: 06 Jul '14Published in: Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz


An abundance of studies have consistently shown that headache is the most prevalent pain in children and adolescents. Weekly headache is experienced by more than 10 % and is distinctly more frequent in girls. The number of headache-affected youths with high disability is lower than expected (~ 4 %).Headache is associated with pain in other body sites, thus multiple pain is experienced more often than isolated headache. Various somatic symptoms and even chronic diseases are also correlated with headache. Headache in parents carries a high risk of also occurring in their children. Various other psychosocial factors such as dysfunctional psychological traits are closely linked with headache, the most prominent being internalizing symptoms. However, externalizing symptoms also correlate with headache. Pain catastrophizing, as well as somatosensory amplification and anxiety sensitivity, have been shown to characterize individuals with headache. Features of the social environment, such as life events, school, as well as family stressors and socioeconomic parameters, are among the risk factors.Psychological interventions such as biofeedback, relaxation, and cognitive-behavioral training have proved their efficacy in headache treatment according to several meta-analyses. The latter has also been conducted in group settings and more recently in self-management focused trainings using electronic media. They mainly aim at the prevention of further headache episodes. The goal of this training is the strengthening of self-efficacy beliefs and active coping strategies. It is proposed that these competencies could contribute to the successful long-term prevention of an adverse course of headache into adulthood.