Coping with headache, an exploration into the role of headache locus of control, dispositional optimism, and neuroticism

Thumbnail Image
Jarrett, Lisa M.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Headaches account for over 18 million outpatient visits each year, amounting to minions of dollars annually in health care costs. Despite the frequency of headache-related health care usage, researchers have discovered that many headache sufferers, including those who suffer from severe headaches, never seek medical care for their head pain. Recent research suggests that, controlling for level of pain, an important difference between those who seek help and those who do not is related to their ability to cope with headaches. The aim of this investigation was to further our understanding of the factors involved in effectively coping with headache by exploring the role of a number of personality factors in the coping process. Participants were 277 university students who completed a series of personality, headache, and coping questionnaires. Analyses of covariance revealed that neuroticism, optimism, and chance headache locus of control were all significantly related to one's ability to cope with recurrent headaches, while internal headache locus of control was not. A discriminant analysis found the pain coping strategy, catastrophizing, to be the single most important determinant of headache coping. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.