Personality traits in chronic daily headache patients with and without psychiatric comorbidity: an observational study in a tertiary care headache center
OBJECTIVE The main aim of this study involves comparing the personality profiles of patients with medication-overuse headache (MOH) and episodic headaches, in order to elucidate the role of personality characteristics, according to one of the most widely used and validated personality assessment tool: Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2). BACKGROUND Many studies have assessed the personality of headache patients by means of MMPI-2 only using clinical and content scales. In this study the supplementary scales were also used as they evaluate different aspects of personality, particularly broad personality characteristics, generalized emotional distress and behavioral dyscontrol. METHODS We recruited 219 subjects (151 women and 68 men) who were grouped in the following categories: MOH group (n = 82); episodic headache group (n = 82; 58 migraine aura; 6 migraine with aura; 6 frequent episodic tension-type headache; 12 migraine+infrequent episodic tension-type headache) and 1 group of 55 healthy controls. MMPI-2 was employed. Data were computed with one-way anova and post hoc analyses. RESULTS Medication-overuse headache and episodic headache patients (EH) showed a very similar pattern, differentiating each other only in the Hypochondriasis (Hs) (P = .007; MOH: mean 14.18 [SD 5.53]; EH: mean 11.93 [SD 5.88] and Health Concerns [HEA]) (P = .005; MOH: mean 14.06 [SD 5.38]; EH: mean 11.81 [SD 5.59]) scales. Surprisingly, no differences were found between the 3 groups in the scales measuring dependence-related behavior such as Addiction Potential Scale (Aps) and Addiction Admission Scale (Aas). MOH and episodic headache patients scored significantly higher in the so-called neurotic scales Hs (P < .0001; MOH: mean 14.18 [SD 5.53]; EH: mean 11.93 [SD 5.88]; CONTROLS mean 5.91 [SD 3.57]), Depression (D) (P < .0001; MOH: mean 26.44 [SD 7.01]; EH: mean 26.09 [SD 5.85]; CONTROLS mean 21.47 [SD 4.90]), and Hysteria (Hy) (P < .0001; MOH: mean 27.33 [SD 5.51]; EH: mean 26.81 [SD 5.68]; CONTROLS mean 21.95 [3.85]) and in many other scales such as Paranoia (Pa), Psychasthenia (Pt), Schizophrenia (Sc) while they scored significantly lower on Ego Strength (Es) and Dominance (Do) scales when compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS Patients with MOH and episodic headache showed very similar patterns, differentiating only in the Hypochondriasis and Health Concerns scales. Surprisingly, there were no significant differences in the scores of the scales measuring dependence-related behavior. The clinical role of MMPI-2 in discriminating MOH patients with dependency from drugs is discussed, in order to implement a complete tests' battery for headache patients' assessment.