Empirical evidence of the important role of the family in primary pediatric headache has grown significantly in the last few years, although the interconnections between the dysfunctional process and the family interaction are still unclear. Even though the role of parenting in childhood migraine is well known, no studies about the personality of parents of migraine children have been conducted. The aim of the present study was to assess, using an objective measure, the personality profile of mothers of children affected by migraine without aura (MoA).
Materials and methods
A total of 269 mothers of MoA children (153 male, 116 female, aged between 6 and 12 years; mean 8.93 ± 3.57 years) were compared with the findings obtained from a sample of mothers of 587 healthy children (316 male, 271 female, mean age 8.74 ± 3.57 years) randomly selected from schools in the Campania, Umbria, Calabria, and Sicily regions. Each mother filled out the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory – second edition (MMPI-2), widely used to diagnose personality and psychological disorders. The t-test was used to compare age and MMPI-2 clinical basic and content scales between mothers of MoA and typical developing children, and Pearson’s correlation test was used to evaluate the relation between MMPI-2 scores of mothers of MoA children and frequency, intensity, and duration of migraine attacks of their children.
Mothers of MoA children showed significantly higher scores in the paranoia and social introversion clinical basic subscales, and in the anxiety, obsessiveness, depression, health concerns, bizarre mentation, cynicism, type A, low self-esteem, work interference, and negative treatment indicator clinical content subscales (P < 0.001 for all variables). Moreover, Pearson’s correlation analysis showed a significant relationship between MoA frequency of children and anxiety (r = 0.4903, P = 0.024) and low self-esteem (r = 0.5130, P = 0.017), while the MoA duration of children was related with hypochondriasis (r = 0.6155, P = 0.003), hysteria (r = 0.6235, P = 0.003), paranoia (r = 0.5102, P = 0.018), psychasthenia (r = 0.4806, P = 0.027), schizophrenia (r = 0.4350, P = 0.049), anxiety (r = 0.4332, P = 0.050), and health concerns (r = 0.7039, P < 0.001) MMPI-2 scores of their mothers.
This could be considered a preliminary study that indicates the potential value of maternal personality assessment for better comprehension and clinical management of children affected by migraine, though further studies on the other primary headaches are necessary.