Behavioral Approaches for Primary Headaches: Recent Advances

Alberto Raggi, Eleonora Grignani, Matilde Leonardi, Frank Andrasik, Emanuela Sansone, Licia Grazzi, Domenico D'Amico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Behavioral treatments in the management of primary headache disorders in adults and children are increasingly being recognized as effective; however, the level and durability of their effectiveness is still a matter of debate. This review aims to provide more updated information on the effects of behavioral therapies in adults and adolescents with primary headache disorders, with a special focus on new and emerging behavioral treatments. Methods: We searched SCOPUS for peer-reviewed papers that reported randomized controlled trial or observational studies addressing behavioral treatment for headache disorders published in the period January 2010 to October 2017. Results: A total of 22 publications, in which 2110 participants were recruited, were included in the review. Most of the studies referred to cognitive behavioral therapies, and a reduction of headache frequency higher than 35% was generally reported irrespective of the approach. In addition, valuable impact disability and quality of life was observed, as well as improvements in depression, anxiety, self-efficacy, and intake of medications. Conclusions: Behavioral approaches are effective and less prone to produce side or harmful effects, which makes them a valid option particularly for women who are pregnant or nursing, people with other chronic conditions requiring pharmacological treatments putting them at risk for drug-drug interactions, and children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-925
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


  • behavior
  • disability
  • headache
  • migraine
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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