Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology



First Advisor

Todd A. Smitherman

Second Advisor

Michael Allen

Third Advisor

Scott A. Gustafson

Relational Format



Obesity is associated with increased risk for chronic migraine and migraine progression, but associations with episodic migraine (em) and episodic tension-type headache (tth) are unclear. Most studies have relied on bmi as an indicator of adiposity. More accurate anthropometric measures that distinguish adipose tissue from other body tissue are critical to examine adiposity-headache associations, including validated measures of abdominal adiposity and established measurement formulas such as body adiposity index (bai) and body composition equations developed by Peterson et al. (2003) and Garcia et al. (2005). The present study explored adiposity-headache associations by employing established anthropometric measures of adiposity and comparing individuals with migraine, with tth, and without headache. Participants were 109 young adults meeting ichd-3 criteria for tth or migraine, or without headache. Ninety-three percent of migraineurs had em, and 92.5% of tth sufferers had etth. Researchers measured each participant and calculated adiposity as a function of: bmi, waist circumference, bai, waist-to-hip ratio, and the aforementioned body composition equations. Headache severity and frequency were obtained via diagnostic interview (sdih-3), and headache-related disability was assessed by the headache impact test (hit-6). Manova and a subsequent mancova did not reveal significant differences in adiposity between migraine, tth, and non-headache groups. Regression analyses indicated that among migraineurs, adiposity accounted for 11%, 13%, and 10% of the variance in headache severity, frequency, and disability, respectively, though these proportions were not statistically significant. Among participants with tth, adiposity accounted for 8% (p = .82), 21% (p =.23), and 39% (p = .009) of the variance in headache severity, frequency, and disability. The association with disability among those with tth fell short of significance after Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Adiposity did not differ between headache groups, and no significant associations were found between adiposity and headache frequency, severity, and disability. Findings extend upon existing literature that has established a positive association between obesity and chronic headache, suggesting that adiposity may not be a distinguishing characteristic among individuals with em and etth. Longitudinal studies that employ gold standard methods of adiposity measurement among diverse samples are needed to further clarify the role of adiposity in headache.


Emphasis: Clinical Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons



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