Clinical Pain Catastrophizing in Women with Migraine and Obesity

Dale S. Bond, Dawn C. Buse, Richard B. Lipton, J. Graham Thomas, Lucille Rathier, Julie Roth, Jelena M. Pavlovic, E. Whitney Evans, Rena R. Wing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Objective/Background Obesity is related to migraine. Maladaptive pain coping strategies (eg, pain catastrophizing) may provide insight into this relationship. In women with migraine and obesity, we cross-sectionally assessed: (1) prevalence of clinical catastrophizing; (2) characteristics of those with and without clinical catastrophizing; and (3) associations of catastrophizing with headache features. Methods Obese women migraineurs seeking weight loss treatment (n = 105) recorded daily migraine activity for 1 month via smartphone and completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS). Clinical catastrophizing was defined as total PCS score ≥30. The six-item Headache Impact Test (HIT-6), 12-item Allodynia Symptom Checklist (ASC-12), Headache Management Self-Efficacy Scale (HMSE), and assessments for depression (Centers for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) and anxiety (seven-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale) were also administered. Using PCS scores and body mass index (BMI) as predictors in linear regression, we modeled a series of headache features (ie, headache days, HIT-6, etc) as outcomes. Results One quarter (25.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 17.2-34.1%) of participants met criteria for clinical catastrophizing: they had higher BMI (37.9 ± 7.5 vs 34.4 ± 5.7 kg/m2, P = .035); longer migraine attack duration (160.8 ± 145.0 vs 97.5 ± 75.2 hours/month, P = .038); higher HIT-6 scores (68.7 ± 4.6 vs 64.5 ± 3.9, P < .001); more allodynia (7.0 ± 4.1 vs 4.5 ± 3.5, P < .003), depression (25.4 ± 12.4 vs 13.3 ± 9.2, P < .001), and anxiety (11.0 ± 5.2 vs 5.6 ± 4.1, P < .001); and lower self-efficacy (80.1 ± 25.6 vs 104.7 ± 18.9, P < .001) compared with participants without clinical catastrophizing. The odds of chronic migraine were nearly fourfold greater in those with (n = 8/29.6%) vs without (n = 8/10.3%) clinical catastrophizing (odds ratio = 3.68; 95%CI = 1.22-11.10, P = .021). In all participants, higher PCS scores were related to more migraine days (β = 0.331, P = .001), longer attack duration (β = 0.390, P < .001), higher HIT-6 scores (β = 0.425, P < .001), and lower HMSE scores (β = -0.437, P < .001). Higher BMI, but not higher PCS scores, was related to more frequent attacks (β = -0.203, P = .044). Conclusions One quarter of participants with migraine and obesity reported clinical catastrophizing. These individuals had more frequent attacks/chronicity, longer attack duration, higher pain sensitivity, greater headache impact, and lower headache management self-efficacy. In all participants, PCS scores were related to several migraine characteristics, above and beyond the effects of obesity. Prospective studies are needed to determine sequence and mechanisms of relationships between catastrophizing, obesity, and migraine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-933
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • allodynia
  • migraine
  • obesity
  • pain catastrophizing
  • smartphone
  • woman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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    Bond, D. S., Buse, D. C., Lipton, R. B., Thomas, J. G., Rathier, L., Roth, J., Pavlovic, J. M., Evans, E. W., & Wing, R. R. (2015). Clinical Pain Catastrophizing in Women with Migraine and Obesity. Headache, 55(7), 923-933.