Behavioral management of headache in children and adolescents

J Headache Pain. 2016 Dec;17(1):80. doi: 10.1186/s10194-016-0671-4. Epub 2016 Sep 5.


Headache is the most frequent neurological symptom and the most prevalent pain in children and adolescents, and constitutes a serious health problem that may lead to impairment in several areas. Psychosocial factors, social environment, life events, school and family stressors are all closely related to headaches. A multidisciplinary strategy is fundamental in addressing headache in children and adolescents. Applying such a strategy can lead to reductions in frequency and severity of the pain, improving significantly the quality of life of these children.It has been demonstrated that behavioral intervention is highly effective, especially in the treatment of paediatric headache, and can enhance or replace pharmacotherapy, with the advantage of eliminating dangerous side effects and or reducing costs. Behavioral interventions appear to maximize long-term therapeutic benefits and improve compliance with pharmacological treatment, which has proven a significant problem with child and adolescent with headache.The goal of this review is to examine the existing literature on behavioral therapies used to treat headache in children and adolescents, and so provide an up-to-date picture of what behavioral therapy is and what its effectiveness is.

Keywords: Adolescents; Behavioral therapies; Children; Cognitive behavioral therapy; Headache; Non-pharmacological therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Headache / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Pain Management / methods*