The role of perfectionism, stress, and interpersonal discord in chronic headache disorders: A daily process study

Headache disorders are a prevalent health issue affecting between 10 to 35 per cent of the Canadian population. Headache disorders—which range from migraines to tension headaches—are associated with significant emotional, social and economic costs, including lost work days, decreased productivity and increased health care costs. There is increasing interest in understanding the role of psychosocial influences, such as personality traits, interpersonal interactions, coping and stress, in the onset, frequency and severity of headaches among sufferers. Perfectionism is a personality trait that has been identified as a potential risk factor for headache disorders. Perfectionists tend to experience greater stress due to their high expectations, self-critical tendencies and interpersonal conflict. Dayna Lee-Baggley is examining how perfectionism may generate and magnify risk factors (e.g., stress) for headache episodes. Her study is the first to monitor perfectionists’ experience of headaches on a daily basis. By identifying the risk factors associated with headache disorders, Dayna’s research will allow researchers to identify targets for intervention that could prevent or minimize the occurrence and impact of headaches for a substantial group of people.