The goal of this study was to determine which cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-HA) treatment components pediatric headache patient stakeholders would report to be most helpful and essential to reducing headache frequency and related disability to develop a streamlined, less burdensome treatment package that would be more accessible to patients and families.
Pediatric migraine is a prevalent and disabling condition. CBT-HA has been shown to reduce headache frequency and related disability, but may not be readily available or accepted by many migraine sufferers due to treatment burden entailed. Research is needed to determine systematic ways of reducing barriers to CBT-HA.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 patients and 9 of their parents who had undergone CBT-HA. Interviews were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis approach based upon modified grounded theory. Patients were 13-17.5 years of age (M = 15.4, SD = 1.63) and had undergone CBT-HA ∼1-2 years prior to participating in the study.
Overall, patients and their parents reported that CBT-HA was helpful in reducing headache frequency and related disability. Although patients provided mixed reports on the effectiveness of different CBT-HA skills, the majority of patients indicated that the mind and body relaxation skills of CBT-HA (deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and activity pacing in particular) were the most helpful and most frequently used skills. Patients and parents also generally reported that treatment was easy to learn, and noted at least some aspect of treatment was enjoyable.
Results from these qualitative interviews indicate that mind and body CBT-HA relaxation skills emerged as popular and effective based on patient and parent report. Future research examining the effectiveness of streamlined pediatric migraine nonpharmacological interventions should include these patient-preferred skills.