Chronic Migraine Has Substantial Impact on Marriage And Parenting

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A web-based study of 994 men and women with chronic migraine found that the condition significantly impacts family relationships and activities, including cancelled vacation plans and reduced quality time with partners and children.

Feelings of guilt, anger and annoyance toward family members due to headache, and avoidance of sexual intimacy due to headache also were reported. Chronic migraine is generally defined as migraine with headaches occurring 15 or more days per month.

The Family Burden of Chronic Migraine to the Migraineur: Results of the CaMEO (Chronic Migraine Epidemiology & Outcomes) Study was reported at the 56th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society. The study’s purpose was to measure the perceived nature and extent of chronic migraine-related burden on family relationships and activities. The lead author of the study was Dawn C. Buse, Ph.D., director, Behavioral Medicine, Montefiore Headache Center and associate professor, Clinical Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“This study highlights the significant impact of chronic migraine, not only on the person with migraine, but on the entire family,” said Dr. Buse. “Respondents reported missing both routine and special family events on a regular basis and feeling guilty and sad about how this affected their relationships with their spouses and children.”

Almost three quarters of respondents (73%) thought they would be better spouses if they did not have chronic migraine. The majority of respondents (64%) felt guilty about being easily angered or annoyed by their partners due to headache and 67% avoided sexual intimacy with their partners at times due to headache.

The majority of respondents (59%) felt they would be better parents if they did not have chronic migraine. 61% of respondents reported that they became easily annoyed with their children due to headache. In addition, 54% of respondents reported that they had reduced participation or enjoyment on a family vacation due to headache in the past year and 20% cancelled or missed a family vacation altogether.

“Clearly, the effects of chronic migraine can be devastating and far reaching. Chronic migraine can be a great burden, not only from the direct effects of the condition on the person with chronic migraine, but also the effects that it has on family members. The effect of chronic migraine on the family is not commonly discussed; however, people who live with hronic migraine may experience substantial emotional distress caused by feeling worried, guilty and sad about how their condition affects the people they love, adding to the total burden,” said Dr. Buse.

The CaMEO Study recruited individuals from a web-based panel, using quota sampling to complete a series of web-based surveys for more than one year. The data was used to characterize migraine and chronic migraine. The current analysis reflects data from respondents meeting study criteria for chronic migraine.

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