Behavioral Therapy Preferences in People With Migraine

Headache. 2020 Jun;60(6):1093-1102. doi: 10.1111/head.13790. Epub 2020 Mar 23.


Background: There are safe and well-tolerated level A evidence-based behavioral therapies for the prevention of migraine. They are biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation. However, the behavioral therapies for the prevention of migraine are underutilized.

Objectives: We sought to examine whether people with migraine with 4 or more headache days a month had preferences regarding the type of delivery of the behavioral therapy (in-person, smartphone based, telephone) and whether they would be willing to pay for in-person behavioral therapy. We also sought to determine the predictors of likelihood to pursue the behavioral therapy.

Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design, we developed an online survey using TurkPrime, an online survey platform, to assess how likely TurkPrime participants who screened positive for migraine using the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention screen were to pursue different delivery methods of the behavioral therapy. We report descriptive statistics and quantitative analyses.

Results: There were 401 participants. Median age was 34 [IQR: 29, 41] years. More than two thirds of participants (70.3%, 282/401) were women. Median number of headache days/ month was 5 [IQR: 2.83, 8.5]. Some (12.5%, 50/401) used evidence-based behavioral therapy for migraine. The participants reported that they were "somewhat likely" to pursue in-person or smartphone behavioral therapy and behavioral therapy covered by insurance but were neutral about pursuing the telephone-based behavioral therapy. Participants were "not very likely" to pay out of pocket for the behavioral therapy. Migraine-related disability as measured by the MIDAS grading score was associated with likelihood to pursue the behavioral therapy in-person (P = .004), via telephone (P = .015), and via smart phone (P < .001), and covered by insurance (P = .001). However, migraine-related disability was not associated with likelihood to pursue out of pocket (P = .769) behavioral therapy. Pain intensity was predictive of likelihood of pursuing the behavioral therapy for migraine when covered by insurance. Other factors including education, employment, and headache days were not predictors.

Conclusion: People with migraine prefer in-person and smartphone-based behavioral therapy to telephone-based behavioral therapy. Migraine-related disability is associated with likelihood to pursue the behavioral therapy (independent of type of delivery of the behavioral therapy-in-person, telephone based or smartphone based). However, participants were not very likely to pay for the behavioral therapy.

Keywords: biofeedback; cognitive behavioral therapy; insurance; progressive relaxation therapy; smartphone; telephone.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy* / economics
  • Behavior Therapy* / methods
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage* / economics
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / economics
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Preference* / economics
  • Smartphone
  • Telemedicine* / economics
  • Telephone*