Persistent posttraumatic headache (PPTH), one of the most common symptoms following mild traumatic brain injury, is often associated with substantial functional disability. The objective of this study was to assess the contribution of demographics, headache characteristics, and psychological symptoms to disability associated with PPTH.
Participants completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), and the Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) questionnaire. Two linear regression models were formulated to interrogate the relationships between 1) demographics and headache characteristics with the MIDAS questionnaire and 2) demographics, headache characteristics, and psychological symptoms with the MIDAS questionnaire. A two-way stepwise regression using the Akaike information criterion was performed to find a parsimonious model describing the relationships between demographics, headache characteristics, and psychological measures with the MIDAS questionnaire.
Participants included 58 patients with PPTH and 39 healthy controls (HCs). The median MIDAS score among those with PPTH was 48.0 (first quartile [1Q] = 20.0, third quartile [3Q] = 92.0), indicative of severe disability. Compared with the HCs, those with PPTH had higher scores on the BDI, STAI, and PCS. Older age predicted lower MIDAS scores (age: B=-0.11, P<0.01), whereas higher headache frequency, greater headache intensity, and higher trait anxiety scores predicted higher MIDAS scores in individuals with PPTH (headache frequency: B=0.07, P<0.001; headache intensity: B=0.51, P=0.04; trait anxiety score: B=1.11, P=0.01).
Individuals with PPTH had substantial psychological symptoms and headache-related disability. Disability was partially explained by age, headache frequency and intensity, and trait anxiety. Holistic management of patients with PPTH to address headaches and psychological symptoms might reduce headache-associated disability.

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