Chronic Migraine Found to More Negatively Impact Relationships, Ability to Begin Family

Those with chronic migraine were much more likely to see their relationships and family lives suffer due to their condition than those with episodic migraine.

Dawn C. Buse, PhD

Those with chronic migraine (CM) are much more likely to have their condition negatively impact their relationships and family life than their counterparts with episodic migraine (EM).

Assessed via an analysis of the results of the CaMEO study, presented at the American Headache Society’s 60th Annual Scientific Meeting, in San Francisco, California, almost 10% those with CM reported issues related to starting a family that were caused by their headaches.

“Migraine can often be a family affair, and it is critical that we find better ways to help women living with this disease,” said Kathleen Digre, MD, the president of the American Headache Society and a distinguished professor of neurology at the University of Utah, in a statement. “Studies presented at this American Headache Society’s 60th Annual Scientific Meeting are advancing our understanding of migraine and its consequences in a broad range of populations.”

Presented by Dawn C. Buse, PhD, a clinical professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the prospective, longitudinal, web-based survey included 19,891 respondents that met the International Classification of Headache Disorders—Second Revision (ICHD-2R) criteria for migraine. They were asked to complete the Family Burden Module (FBM) to examine their and their family members’ views of the impact and perception of the condition, and their emotions related to it. Respondents were stratified by EM (n = 11,938; <14 headache days per month) or CM (n = 1136; ≥15 headache days per month), with the EM group making up 91.4% of the 13,064 total respondents.

Questions on the assessment included Likert-type response options related to relationships, while the descriptive analyses of elements of the survey by relationship status, EM/CM status, and gender included Chi-square and P values to reveal statistical significance.

In total, 3189 of those with CM were not currently in a relationship, of which 37% relayed that their migraines affected their relationship problems, compared to 15% of those with EM (P <.001). Of the 1323 respondents with CM that were in a relationship but not living together, 43.9% indicated that their headaches were resulting in relationship concerns or ability to become closer—including issues surrounding moving in together or getting married—compared to 15.8% of those with EM (P <.001). In comparison among gender, responses were similar, with 18% of men and 17.8% of women reporting these problems.

When assessing those in a relationship and living together (n = 8127), 78.2% of those with CM agreed that their contribution to the relationship would be better without their headaches compared to 46.2% of those with EM (P <.001). Additionally, 9.6% of those with CM noted that they delayed having children, or had fewer children, due to their headaches. In comparison, 2.6% of those with EM said the same (P <.001). In this instance, there were no statistical differences between men and women.

When asked if their headaches resulted in problems or the ending of ≥1 or more previous relationships, 47.4% of those with CM agreed compared to 18.2% of those with EM (P <.001). Among the genders, these responses were also similar, with 20.6% of men and 19.9% of women agreeing (P = .82).

The study, “The impact of chronic migraine: The Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes (CaMEO) Study methods and baseline results,” was published in Cephalalgia.

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