Headache and psychological disorders in children and adolescents: a cross-generational study

F. Galli, M Caputi, M Gallucci, Cristiano Termine, M Chiappedi, U Balottin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Headache and psychopathology (especially anxiety and mood disorders) are comorbid across the life span. The present study is a clinical contribution in the direction of studying the familial recurrence of headache, and the interplay of headache and psychopathology in children.

METHODS: The clinical sample is composed by 130 headache patients (53 boys and 77 girls, age range 8-18), while the control groups is composed by 87 healthy subjects from the general population (39 boys and 48 girls, age range 8-18). A structured interview according to International Classification for Headache Disorders-II criteria has been administered to the clinical group; the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Self Administrated Psychiatric Scales for Children and Adolescents (SAFA) have been used in order to assess psychopathology in both groups.

RESULTS: The recurrence of headache in family members is confirmed by the present study, albeit limited to paternal side, χ2(4, N = 130) = 10.47, p = .033. Results also showed that scores obtained by the clinical sample in CBCL and SAFA are generally higher than scores obtained by the control group, but without differences between headache sub-types. Finally, internalizing symptoms (anxiety and depression) in children correlate with mothers' point of view, r ≥ .23, p < .05, outlining a specific attunement between headache patients and their mothers.

CONCLUSION: Headache runs in families, with high level of psychological disorders. Mothers are particularly attuned with the psychological needs of their headache children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMinerva Pediatrica
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 4 2015


  • Journal Article


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