Appraisal of Subjective Stress in Individuals with Tension-Type Headache: The Influence of Baseline Measures

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These studies investigated appraisal and coping strategies of tension-type headache sufferers and headache-free controls. In study 1, 60 women engaged in an interpersonal stressor. They completed measures that assessed subjective stress and coping strategies. Headache sufferers reported greater levels of stress at baseline than did controls but were not more reactive to a stressful interpersonal situation. All participants reported greater use of disengagement coping during the interpersonal interaction, while the amount of engagement coping strategies did not differ. Participants (30 women) in Study 2 engaged in progressive muscle relaxation. Headache participants again reported higher levels of subjective stress at baseline, this difference was nearly gone following relaxation. Together, the results suggest that individuals with tension-type headache report higher levels of subjective stress than headache-free controls when they make baseline ratings of stress and that this elevation cannot be attributed to the anticipation of a future stressful event.

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