Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 125–140

Biofeedback Treatment for Headache Disorders: A Comprehensive Efficacy Review

  • Yvonne Nestoriuc
  • Alexandra Martin
  • Winfried Rief
  • Frank Andrasik
Article

Abstract

The aim of the present review was to critically evaluate the documented evidence regarding the efficacy of biofeedback for the two most prevalent headache conditions––migraine and tension-type headache. Drawing upon two recently published meta-analyses, data from 150 outcome studies, including randomized controlled trials as well as uncontrolled quasi-experimental designs, were screened. Of these, 94 studies were selected for inclusion according to predefined criteria. Meta-analytic integrations were carried out separately for the two conditions of interest. The main results were medium-to-large mean effect sizes for biofeedback in adult migraine and tension-type headache patients. Treatment effects remained stable over an average follow-up period of 14 months, both in completer and intention-to-treat analyses. Headache frequency was the primary outcome variable and showed the largest improvements. Further significant effects were shown for perceived self-efficacy, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and medication consumption. Reduced muscle tension in pain related areas was observed in electromyographic feedback for tension-type headache. Biofeedback was more effective than waiting list and headache monitoring conditions in all cases, while electromyographic feedback for tension-type headache showed additional significant effects over placebo and relaxation therapies. Levels of efficacy (migraine: efficacious, level 4; tension-type headache: efficacious and specific, level 5) and recommendations for future research are provided.

Keywords

Migraine Tension-type headache Biofeedback Relaxation Treatment efficacy Meta-analysis White paper 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne Nestoriuc
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexandra Martin
    • 3
  • Winfried Rief
    • 2
  • Frank Andrasik
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Psychology and PsychotherapyPhilipps University of MarburgMarburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyUniversity of Erlangen-NuernbergErlangenGermany
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of West FloridaPensacolaUSA

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