To assess the effect of group education on the frequency of chronic headaches among adolescents.
Chronic headaches are a common problem among adolescents with significant psychosocial morbidity. Brief education on lifestyle interventions to decrease headache frequency has established benefits among adult patients but is less proven among adolescents.
This study is a chart review examining our experience with a group education program for 155 adolescents, aged 12-17 years old, enrolled in the U.S. military medical system with at least 3 months of chronic headaches who were referred to a headache evaluation clinic. The primary outcome of our study was self-reported number of days with a headache in the previous 30 days based on patient recall. We used a paired samples t-test to measure the change in headache frequency between the frequency reported at the headache class and follow-up more than 6 months after the class.
Most of the adolescents seen in the program were female (114/155 [73.5%]) and suffered from migraine headaches (108/155 [69.8%]). Severe headache-related disability was reported by 40.6% of subjects (63/155). Subjects reported an average of 19 days with headache during the previous 30 days. Females and patients with higher headache-related disability reported a higher number of days with headache. Participation in the group education was associated with an 11.5 (SD 11.9, P < .001) day decrease in the frequency of headaches during the previous 30 days at follow-up at least 6 months after the class, with largest decline seen in patients with the highest level of migraine-related disability at baseline.
Based on our retrospective chart review study, group education on headache evaluation and lifestyle management has potential as an effective, low-cost intervention for treatment of chronic headaches among adolescents.