Psychopathological symptoms in child and adolescent migraine and tension-type headache: A meta-analysis

Umberto Balottin, Paolo Fusar Poli, Cristiano Termine, Silvia Molteni, Federica Galli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: After decades of research, the importance of psychological factors in child and adolescent headache is no longer in doubt. However, it is not clearly understood whether different types of headache are comorbid with specific kinds of psychopathology. To address this issue, we set out to establish whether young patients with migraine do or do not show significant levels of psychopathological symptoms compared with age-matched healthy controls and patients with tension-type headache (TTH). Methods: Ten studies were selected on the basis of a widely used psychodiagnostic tool (the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL)) and by applying rigorous criteria: The studies were compared in a meta-analysis in order to evaluate the presence of Internalizing (mainly anxiety and depression) and Externalizing (mainly behavioral problems) symptoms in different types of headache (and versus healthy controls). Findings: Patients with migraine showed more psychopathological symptoms than healthy controls. TTH patients also had more psychopathology than controls, although the difference was more marked in the area of Internalizing disorders. Finally, no differences emerged between migraine and TTH. Discussion and conclusion: Psychopathological symptoms affect children with migraine, but also children with TTH. Biological, pathophysiological and clinical links need to be established. Effective treatment of affected children and adolescents is imperative in order to prevent chronic evolution. In this context, the CBCL may be a good screening instrument with a view to developing a tailored clinical approach

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-122
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • adolescent
  • CBCL
  • child
  • Migraine
  • psychopathology
  • tension-type headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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