Research by ICH and BU Medical Links Headache Reports in Women and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Intimate Partner Violence

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According to a recent collaborative study by Megan Gerber, MD, MPH of the Boston University School of Medicine and ICH Associate Director Lise Fried, DSc, MS – along with Suzanne Pineles, PhD and Jullian Shipherd, PhD also of the BU School of Medicine and Carolyn Bernstein, MD of the Beth Israel Deaconess Comprehensive Headache Center – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intimate partner violence (IPV) occur among a substantial percentage of women seeking medical care for headaches.

Both PTSD and IPV had previously been linked with women’s reports of ill health, and this study aimed to further elucidate the link between PTSD or IPV and headache reporting in particular. As highlighted in an upcoming article in Women and Health by Gerber, Fried, and colleagues, over a quarter of female patients recruited from a local women’s headache center screened positive for PTSD. When screened for physical partner violence, over a third reported having experienced IPV in their lifetime, with 1 in 10 reporting IPV in the past year. The authors also found that women in the study reporting either PTSD or lifetime IPV reported more severe or disabling headaches, with PTSD associated with stronger headache severity and lifetime IPV associated with reporting more disability days due to headache over a three-month period. These findings have particularly important implications for healthcare providers treating women reporting headaches, and suggest that providers should be aware of the possibility of PTSD or IPV in such patients to increase screening and improve care. For more information, click here to see the article abstract!