Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology



First Advisor

Todd A. Smitherman

Second Advisor

John Young

Third Advisor

Tom Lombardo

Relational Format



Migraine is one of the most prevalent neurological disorders diagnosed throughout the world and can be extremely disabling, with many economic, social, physical and psychological health costs. Many environmental and physiological factors have been shown to precipitate migraine, including stress, hormonal fluctuations (in women), weather events, and changes in sleep and eating habits. In retrospective studies, a sizeable proportion of migraineurs also identify alcohol as a trigger for migraine attacks, but comparatively little research has explored the nature of alcohol consumption (frequency, quantity, type, rate, time of day) in relation to other aspects of migraine. Given limited and conflicting data regarding alcohol use and migraine, the purpose of the current study was to assess whether specific alcohol-related variables differentiate migraineurs from healthy controls and to determine the extent to which these alcohol variables are associated with migraine-related variables. College students are a population of interest because of their high rates of alcohol consumption and the documented high prevalence of migraine during the college years. The sample consisted of 192 college students with a mean age of 19.84 years (SD = 3.65), with 87 (45.3%) meeting ICHD-II criteria for episodic migraine and 6 (3.1%) for chronic migraine. Migraineurs did not differ significantly on assessed alcohol-related variables compared to controls (F (4,181) = 1.603, p = .176, partial η2 = .036). A multivariate regression analysis among the migraineurs only found that the primary predictor variables (frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption, severity of alcohol-related negative consequences, and number of binge episodes) in aggregate did not predict the combination of migraine variables (frequency, severity, and disability; F [12, 204] = 1.326, p = .206). However, a linear regression analysis controlling for anxiety, depression, and gender confirmed that alcohol variables significantly predicted headache-related disability, accounting for 10.6% of unique variance in disability (p <.05), but did not predict migraine severity or frequency in individual analyses. Headache self-efficacy was unrelated to alcohol-related variables. An argument is advanced for similarities between migraineurs and non-migraine controls on alcohol-related variables. Findings extend previous research and suggest the need for future studies exploring the role of alcohol use on migraine via experimental methods.


Emphasis: Clinical Psychology



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