Non-pharmacological self-management for people living with migraine or tension-type headache: a systematic review

The objective of this study was to assess the effect of non-pharmacological self-management interventions against usual care, and to explore different components and delivery methods within those interventions. This was achieve through a systematic review of articles including people living with migraine and/or tension-type headache, and the impact of  non-pharmacological educational or psychological self-management interventions; excluding biofeedback and physical therapy.

The authors found a small overall effect for the superiority of self-management interventions over usual care, with a standardised mean difference (SMD) of −0.36 (−0.45 to −0.26) for pain intensity; −0.32 (−0.42 to −0.22) for headache-related disability, 0.32 (0.20 to 0.45) for quality of life and a moderate effect on mood (SMD=0.53 (−0.66 to −0.40)). We did not find an effect on headache frequency (SMD=−0.07 (−0.22 to 0.08)).

Assessment of components and characteristics suggests a larger effect on pain intensity in interventions that included explicit educational components (−0.51 (−0.68 to −0.34) vs −0.28 (−0.40 to −0.16)); mindfulness components (−0.50 (−0.82 to −0.18) vs 0.34 (−0.44 to −0.24)) and in interventions delivered in groups vs one-to-one delivery (0.56 (−0.72 to −0.40) vs −0.39 (−0.52 to −0.27)) and larger effects on mood in interventions including a cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) component with an SMD of −0.72 (−0.93 to −0.51) compared with those without CBT −0.41 (−0.58 to −0.24).

Overall the authors found that self-management interventions for migraine and tension-type headache are more effective than usual care in reducing pain intensity, mood and headache-related disability, but have no effect on headache frequency. Preliminary findings also suggest that including CBT, mindfulness and educational components in interventions, and delivery in groups may increase effectiveness.

Neck Pain

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.

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