A controlled evaluation of thermal biofeedback and thermal biofeedback combined with cognitive therapy in the treatment of vascular headache

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1990 Apr;58(2):216-24. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.58.2.216.


One-hundred-sixteen patients suffering from vascular headache (migraine or combined migraine and tension) were, after 4 weeks of pretreatment baseline headache monitoring, randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (a) thermal biofeedback with adjunctive relaxation training (TBF); (b) TBF plus cognitive therapy; (c) pseudomediation as an ostensible attention-placebo control; or (d) headache monitoring. The first three groups received 16 individual sessions over 8 weeks, while the fourth group continued to monitor headaches. All groups then monitored headaches for a 4-week posttreatment baseline. Analyses revealed that all treated groups improved significantly more than the headache monitoring group with no significant differences among the three treated groups. On a measure of clinically significant improvement, the two TBF groups had slightly higher (51%) degree of improvement than the meditation group (37.5%). It is argued that the attention-placebo control became an active relaxation condition.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Skin Temperature
  • Vascular Headaches / therapy*