The impact of post-traumatic stress disorder on the burden of migraine: Results from the national comorbidity survey-replication

Aruna S. Rao, Ann I. Scher, Rebeca V.A. Vieira, Kathleen R. Merikangas, Andrea L. Metti, B. Lee Peterlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been linked with migraine in prior studies. Objective To evaluate the individual and joint burdens of migraine and PTSD in a population-based cohort. Methods The National Comorbidity Survey-Replication (NCS-R) is a general population study conducted in the United States from February 2001-April 2003. PTSD and migraine were assessed, and four groups defined based on their migraine and PTSD status. The four groups included those with no migraine and no PTSD (controls, n=4535), those with migraine and without PTSD (migraine alone, n=236), those with PTSD and without migraine (PTSD alone, n=244), and those with both migraine and PTSD (mig+PTSD, n=68). Logistic and Poisson regression models were used to assess the association between dichotomous/multilevel outcome variables indicating financial, health, and interpersonal burdens and each migraine/PTSD group. Results Compared to controls, those with Mig+PTSD were more likely to be in the low poverty index (48% vs 41%, AOR 2.16; CI: 1.10, 4.24) and were less likely to be working for pay or profit in the past week (50% vs 68%, AOR 0.42; CI: 0.24, 0.74) but not those with migraine or PTSD alone. Additionally, the number of days where work quality was cut due to physical or mental health or substance abuse in the past month was greater in all groups compared to controls: (1) migraine alone: mean 2.57 (SEM 0.32) vs mean 1.09 (SEM 0.08) days, ARR=2.39; CI: 2.19, 2.62; (2) PTSD alone: mean 2.43 (SEM 0.33) vs mean 1.09 (SEM 0.08) days, ARR=2.09; CI: 1.91, 2.29; (3) mig+PTSD: mean 8.2 (SEM 0.79) vs 1.09 (SEM 0.08) days, ARR 6.79; CI 6.16, 7.49; and was over 2.5-fold greater in those mig+PTSD than migraine alone (mean 8.0 [SEM 0.79] vs 2.6 days [SEM 0.72], ARR 2.77; CI: 2.45, 3.14). The likelihood of having difficulty getting along or maintaining a social life was also increased in all groups relative to controls: (1) migraine alone: 21% vs 5.4%, AOR 4.20; CI: 2.62, 6.74; (2) PTSD alone: 18% vs 5.4%, AOR 3.40; CI: 2.40, 4.82; (3) Mig+PTSD: 39% vs 5.4%, AOR 9.95; CI: 5.72, 17.32, and was 2-fold greater in those with Mig+PTSD as compared to those with migraine alone (AOR 2.32; CI: 1.15, 4.69). Conclusions These findings support the need for those who treat migraine patients to be aware of the comorbidity with PTSD, as these patients may be particularly prone to adverse financial, health, and interpersonal disease burdens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1341
Number of pages19
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • disability
  • economic burden
  • migraine
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • societal burden


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