Biofeedback as Prophylaxis for Pediatric Migraine: A Meta-analysis

Pediatrics. 2016 Aug;138(2):e20160675. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-0675.


Context: Migraine is a common problem in children and adolescents, but few satisfactory prophylactic treatments exist.

Objective: Our goal was to investigate the pooled evidence for the effectiveness of using biofeedback to reduce childhood migraine.

Data sources: A systematic search was conducted across the databases Medline, Embase, CENTRAL, CINAHL, and PsychINFO.

Study selection: Prospective, randomized controlled trials of biofeedback for migraine among children and adolescents were located in the search.

Data extraction: Data on reduction of mean attack frequency and a series of secondary outcomes, including adverse events, were extracted. Risk of bias was also assessed.

Results: Forest plots were created by using a fixed effects model, and mean differences were reported. Five studies with a total of 137 participants met the inclusion criteria. Biofeedback reduced migraine frequency (mean difference, -1.97 [95% confidence interval (CI), -2.72 to -1.21]; P < .00001), attack duration (mean difference, -3.94 [95% CI, -5.57 to -2.31]; P < .00001), and headache intensity (mean difference, -1.77 [95% CI, -2.42 to -1.11]; P < .00001) compared with a waiting-list control. Biofeedback demonstrated no adjuvant effect when combined with other behavioral treatment; neither did it have significant advantages over active treatment. Only 40% of bias judgments were deemed as "low" risk.

Limitations: Methodologic issues hampered the meta-analyses. Only a few studies were possible to include, and they suffered from incomplete reporting of data and risk of bias.

Conclusions: Biofeedback seems to be an effective intervention for pediatric migraine, but in light of the limitations, further investigation is needed to increase our confidence in the estimate.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Waiting Lists