Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use among Adults with Migraines/Severe Headaches
June 28, 2011
While many patients
with chronic conditions use CAM, little is known about CAM use by adults with
migraines/severe headaches. Researchers from
Harvard Medical School launched a study to determine patterns, reasons for, and
correlates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by US adults with
They compared CAM use between adults with and without self-reported
migraines/severe headaches using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, a
national cross-sectional survey that had 23,393 respondents. Results: Adults
with migraines/severe headaches used CAM more frequently than those without
(49.5% vs 33.9%); differences persisted after adjustment. Mind-body therapies
were used most commonly. More than 50% of adults with migraines/severe headaches
reporting CAM use had not discussed it with their health care provider.
Nonetheless, those with migraines/severe headaches used CAM more often than
those without because of provider recommendation and because conventional
treatments were perceived as ineffective or too costly.
Correlates of CAM use among adults with migraines/severe headaches included
anxiety, joint or low back pain, alcohol use, higher education, and living in
the western USA. Only 4.5% of adults with migraines/severe headaches reported
using CAM to specifically treat their migraines/severe headaches.
Conclusions: CAM is used more often among adults with migraines/severe headaches
than those without. However, few report using CAM to specifically treat
migraines/severe headaches. Mind-body therapies are used most frequently.
Further research is needed to understand the effectiveness and mechanisms of CAM
treatments in adults with migraines/severe headaches.
Their research results appeared in the June 2011 issue of
Headache, the official journal of
American Headache Society.