Childhood maltreatment and migraine (part III). Association with comorbid pain conditions

Gretchen E. Tietjen, Jan L. Brandes, B. Lee Peterlin, Arnolda Eloff, Rima M. Dafer, Michael R. Stein, Ellen Drexler, Vincent T. Martin, Susan Hutchinson, Sheena K. Aurora, Ana Recober, Nabeel A. Herial, Christine Utley, Leah White, Sadik A. Khuder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Objective. - To evaluate in a headache clinic population the relationship of childhood maltreatment on the prevalence of pain conditions comorbid with migraine. Background. - Childhood maltreatment is highly prevalent and has been frequently associated with recurrent headache. The relationship of maltreatment and pain has, however, been a subject of some debate. Methods. - Cross-sectional data on self-reported physician-diagnosed pain conditions were electronically collected from persons with migraine (diagnosed according to International Classification of Headache Disorders-2), seeking treatment in headache clinics at 11 centers across the US and Canada. These included irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), interstitial cystitis (IC), arthritis, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. Other information included demographics, migraine characteristics (frequency, headache-related disability), remote and current depression (The Patient Health Questionnaire-9), and remote and current anxiety (The Beck Anxiety Inventory). Patients also completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire regarding sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, and emotional and physical neglect under the age of 18 years old. Statistical analyses accounted for the survey design and appropriate procedures in SAS such as surveymeans, surveyfreq, and surveylogistic were applied to the weighted data. Results. - A total of 1348 migraineurs (88% women) were included in this study (mean age 41 years). Based on physician diagnosis or validated criteria, 31% had IBS, 16% had CFS, and 10% had FM. Diagnosis of IC was reported by 6.5%, arthritis by 25%, and in women, endometriosis was reported by 15% and uterine fibroids by 14%. At least 1 comorbid pain condition was reported by 61%, 2 conditions by 18%, and 3 or more by 13%. Childhood maltreatment was reported by 58% of the patients. Emotional abuse was associated with increased prevalence of IBS, CFS, arthritis, and physical neglect with arthritis. In women, physical abuse was associated with endometriosis and physical neglect with uterine fibroids. Emotional abuse, and physical abuse and neglect (P <.0001 for all) were also associated with increased total number of comorbid conditions. In ordinal logistic regression models, adjusted for sociodemographics and current depression (prevalence 28%) and anxiety (prevalence 56%), emotional abuse (odds ratios [OR] = 1.69, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 1.224-2.33) and physical neglect (OR = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.22-2.46) were independently associated with an increased number of pain conditions. The cohort of women, similarly, had associations of emotional abuse (OR = 1.94, 95% CI: 1.40-2.72) and physical neglect (OR = 1.90, 95% CI: 1.34-2.68) with an increased number of pain comorbidities. Conclusion. - The association of childhood maltreatment and pain was stronger in those reporting multiple pain conditions and multiple maltreatment types. This finding suggests that in migraineurs childhood maltreatment may be a risk factor for development of comorbid pain disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-51
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Comorbid pain
  • Migraine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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