Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Todd A. Smitherman

Second Advisor

Carey Dowling


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Stress is the most commonly reported trigger for headache and stress affects headache both directly through resulting physiological changes and indirectly through its effects on lifestyle and coping behaviors. However one form of stress that has been neglected within headache is parenting. Parenting stress is defined as the imbalance between parents’ perceptions of available resources and their perceived demands of parenthood. Many variables have been established as predictors of parenting stress (e.g. demographic variables child behavior maternal depression) though fewer studies have examined its effects on health. Given that headache and parenthood share similar demographic distributions and risk factors exploration of the relationship between parenting stress and headache is warranted. The present study aimed to explore associations between mothers’ levels of parenting stress and primary headache disorders (i.e. migraine TTH) as well as the role of sleep quality as a potential moderator of this relationship. The sample consisted of 435 female adults with a mean age of 35.83 years (SD = 8.75). Between-group comparisons in parenting stress scores among all three groups (Migraine TTH Non-Headache) yielded non-significant results. However parenting stress was statistically associated with more headache days per month though not with headache-related disability. Greater parenting stress was associated with poorer sleep quality but sleep quality was not a significant moderator between parenting stress and headache frequency or headache disability. Although only a small effect was observed the present findings suggest that parenting stress may be a worthwhile factor for further exploration of its role in headache research. Limitations and clinical implications are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.