A comparison of psychological and pharmacological treatment of pediatric migraine

Behav Res Ther. 1998 Dec;36(12):1155-70. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(98)00081-3.


A comparison was carried out of the efficacy of psychological and drug treatments for children with migraine. Forty-three children aged between 8 and 16 years (mean age: 11.3 years) who suffered from migraine received either progressive relaxation or cephalic vasomotor feedback, both with stress management training, or metoprolol, a beta-blocker. Psychological treatment was administered in ten sessions lasting six weeks and the drug treatment lasted ten weeks. Relaxation and stress management training reduced the headache index (frequency x intensity of headache episodes), more effectively than metoprolol with cephalic vasomotor feedback and stress management training in between. An overall improvement over time was found with regard to frequency and intensity of headache episodes and analgesics intake. When comparing pre- to post-treatment data, children treated with relaxation training improved significantly in headache frequency and intensity, whereas those treated with cephalic vasomotor feedback improved significantly in headache frequency and duration as well as mood. The clinical improvement was stable at an 8-months follow-up.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / administration & dosage*
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Metoprolol