Mindfulness and Chronic Headache/Migraine: Mechanisms Explored Through the Fear-Avoidance Model of Chronic Pain

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Abstract

Objectives:

To replicate a study by Schutze and colleagues on a headache sample, rather than a heterogenous chronic pain sample, investigating whether level of mindfulness predicts key components in the Fear-Avoidance Model of chronic pain (pain intensity, negative affect, pain catastrophizing, pain-related fear, pain hypervigilance, and functional disability); to investigate the relationships between level of mindfulness and headache/migraine pain intensity, frequency, and duration.

Materials and Methods:

Participants were 217 individuals who self-reported chronic headache/migraine (51 male, 166 female), aged between 18 and 65 years. Participants completed an online survey measuring demographics, mindfulness, the key components of the Fear-Avoidance Model, and headache pain intensity, duration, and frequency.

Results:

Mindfulness had significant negative correlations (P<0.05) with all variables except headache pain intensity and headache frequency. Mindfulness significantly predicted negative affect, pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, pain hypervigilance, and headache duration (P<0.05). Mindfulness remained a significant predictor of negative affect and pain hypervigilance after controlling for other key components and background characteristics (P<0.05). Mindfulness did not moderate the relationship between pain intensity and pain catastrophizing (P=0.204).

Discussion:

Findings suggest that mindfulness may be integrated into the Fear-Avoidance Model of chronic pain for individuals with chronic headache/migraine. Directions for future research are discussed.

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