Mindfulness Goes Online to Help Headache and Migraine Sufferers

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is currently recruiting people with chronic or recurrent daily headaches to take part in an online pain management programme.

The study offers individuals with chronic daily headache the opportunity to avail of six online sessions of mindfulness training tailored specifically for headache pain by Dr Jonathan Egan, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, NUI Galway.

The sessions, which are free of charge, will focus on active self-management, instruction in a range of relaxation techniques, coping skills and cognitive behavioural therapy techniques (CBT) to help identify negative thinking and coping patterns. The overall technique being used is known as a mindfulness-based pain management programme, and it is hoped mindfulness training may offer some relief to people with recurrent headache.

Unlike other chronic pain patients, people suffering chronic or recurrent headache are an under-researched population. Prevalence rates indicate 12-15% of the Irish population suffer from migraine alone. The disability and productivity lost as a result of severe headache can be significant.

The online programme is part of a research project being carried out at NUI Galway by Angeline Traynor who is the principal researcher: “We know that a combination of psychological and mindfulness techniques are beneficial, particularly for people managing chronic or recurrent pain. Our intention is to see whether this approach can also work for people with chronic headache pain.

This online setting is particularly fitting for individuals with chronic headache as it may be accessed at their convenience for the purpose of prevention, and management. The programme layout is modular to ensure ease of use and time efficiency for busy individuals who would like to log on and receive additional support in managing their pain.”

The researchers are specifically interested in hearing from people who have chronic daily headache (CDH), defined as chronic head pain which occurs on 15 or more days per month over a period of three to four months and this includes tension-type headache, migraine and medication overuse headache.  

Dr Egan said: “Many people find that the combination of cognitive and relaxation therapies which are offered in this headache management programme enable them to take back control of their lives and engage more in daily activities with the knowledge they have the tools necessary to better manage their pain. This project is hoping to establish if mindfulness training may be delivered effectively in an online format to help these individuals.

The programme is designed to be accessible to all people who have a computer. Patients can continue with their normal treatments while also taking part in the study. GPs, physiotherapists, friends and family are encouraged to refer interested individuals to participate. For further information, please contact Angeline Traynor, at a.traynor2@nuigalway.ie, 0860378562, or go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/headachemanagement

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Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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