A randomized controlled trial of an internet-based treatment for chronic headache

Author: Devineni T//Blanchard EB
Conemaugh Health System, 122 Montour Street, Johnstown, PA 15905 2422, USA
Conference/Journal: Behav Res Ther
Date published: 2005
Other: Volume ID: 43 , Issue ID: 3 , Pages: 277-92 , Word Count: 186

Chronic headache is a significant public health problem in Western nations. Although controlled trials demonstrate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of face-to-face behavioral therapy, most headache sufferers have limited access to these treatments. Delivery of behavioral interventions using Internet technology has the potential to reach a larger number of headache sufferers and reduce the burden of disease. This randomized controlled study evaluated an Internet-delivered behavioral regimen composed of progressive relaxation, limited biofeedback with autogenic training, and stress management versus a symptom monitoring waitlist control. Treatment led to a significantly greater decrease in headache activity than symptom monitoring alone. Thirty-nine percent of treated individuals showed clinically significant improvement on self-report measures of headache symptoms at post-treatment. At two-month follow-up, 47% of participants maintained improvement. Treatment had a significant impact on general headache symptoms and headache-related disability. There was a 35% within-group reduction of medication usage among the treated subjects. The Internet program was more time-efficient than traditional clinical treatment. Treatment and follow-up dropout rates, 38.1% and 64.8%, respectively, were typical of behavioral self-help studies. This approach to self-management of headache is promising; however, several methodological and ethical challenges need to be addressed.