The association of changes in pain acceptance and headache-related disability

Jason Lillis, J. Graham Thomas, Richard B. Lipton, Lucille Rathier, Julie Roth, Jelena Pavlovic, Kevin C. O’Leary, Dale S. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background Migraine accounts for substantial suffering and disability. Previous studies show cross-sectional associations between higher pain acceptance and lower headache-related disability in individuals with migraine, but none has evaluated this association longitudinally during migraine treatment. Purpose This study evaluated whether changes in pain acceptance were associated with changes in headache-related disability and migraine characteristics in a randomized controlled trial (Women’s Health and Migraine) that compared effects of behavioral weight loss (BWL) treatment and migraine education (ME) on headache frequency in women with migraine and overweight/obesity. Methods This was a post hoc analysis of 110 adult women with comorbid migraine and overweight/obesity who received 16 weeks of either BWL or ME. Linear and nonlinear mixed effects modeling methods were used to test for between-group differences in change in pain acceptance, and also to examine the association between change in pain acceptance and change in headache disability. Results BWL and ME did not differ on improvement in pain acceptance from baseline across post-treatment and follow-up. Improvement in pain acceptance was associated with reduced headache disability, even when controlling for intervention-related improvements in migraine frequency, headache duration, and pain intensity. Conclusions This study is the first to show that improvements in pain acceptance following two different treatments are associated with greater reductions in headache-related disability, suggesting a potential new target for intervention development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-690
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 4 2019


  • Acceptance
  • Disability
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Obesity
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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