The influence of friendship on migraine in young adolescents: A social network analysis

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Cephalalgia, Ahead of Print.
ObjectiveThe current study explored whether the chances of having migraine are influenced by a youth’s friendship with a migraineur.MethodsThe study was centered on a community-based non-referral cohort of eighth graders from two middle schools in Taiwan. Among the 642 recruited adolescent students, 610 (95%) (mean age 14.1 years, male ratio 51.2%) nominated three good friends and completed a validated headache questionnaire for migraine diagnosis at the follow-up survey 1 year later. To explore social influences on incident migraine, we used longitudinal statistical models to examine whether the development of migraine in one adolescent during the 1-year observational period was associated with that in his/her friends.ResultsOverall, 1700 social ties were established in the social network based on the reported lists of good friends. Randomization test for the homophily effect demonstrated that the students with migraine tended to cluster together in the social network even when those with incident migraine were also considered (p = 0.003). Besides, when friendship choices were mutual, the relative risk of an adolescent becoming a migraineur was 3.26 (95% CI: 1.25–8.47, p = 0.015) if his/her friend became a migraineur (induction) during the 1-year observational period.ConclusionTo the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that migraine may spread through social networks in young adolescents. Both homophily and induction effects are possibly contributory.

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