Health and quality of life in patients with medication overuse headache syndrome after standardized inpatient rehabilitation: A cross-sectional pilot study

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The aim of this pilot study was to determine health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with history of medication overuse headache (MOH) after detoxification and a headache-specific inpatient rehabilitation program and to receive necessary information for future prospective studies.

HRQoL and headache-related disability were cross-sectionally measured by Short Form 36 (SF-36), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Migraine Disability Score (MIDAS), Coping Strategies Questionnaire (CSQ), and Symptom Checklist 90 revised (SCL-90-R). SF-36, HADS, and SCL-90-R data were compared to German population norms, stratified by age, sex, and comorbidities.

Fifty-one patients (72.5% females, mean age 47.3 years) were included with an average headache duration of 25.3 years. Moderate to high levels of headache were reported on the MIDAS VAS at 6.51 (range 0–10); SF-36 bodily pain was 40.3 (norm = 59.0, P < .001, 100 = best). Impaired functioning averaged at 78.4 (100 = no impairment) on the MIDAS. In contrast, SF-36 physical functioning was comparable to the norm (mean: 78.4, norm = 81.8, P = .63). All other SF-36 scales were significantly lower than expected from the norm (all P < .001). The scales depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and interpersonal sensitivity were significantly affected, whereas the levels of SCL-90-R schizophrenia nuclear and schizotypia were not lower than the norm. Coping with pain was moderate.

This pilot study is the first that presents a comprehensive and simultaneously specific assessment of health and quality of life of MOH patients after detoxification and inpatient rehabilitation. Moderate to high levels of pain and self-reported disability owing to headache were observed, whereas physical function on the SF-36 was not different from the expected level of the norm. Mental health was substantially affected in several dimensions, which had been described to reduce the ability to cope with pain. MOH patients seem to have high expectations of functionality, low symptomatology, and intact well-being.

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