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Original scientific paper

Anxiety in Children with Headaches

Anita Vulić-Prtorić orcid id ; University of Zadar, Department of Psychology
Slavka Galić ; County Hospital Požega, Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology
Renata Coha ; General Hospital Josip Benčević -Slavonski Brod, Department of Pediatrics
Marina Grubić ; University Hospital Zagreb, Department of Pediatrics
Josip Lopižić ; General Hospital Dubrovnik, Department of Psychiatry, Unit for Developmental Disorders
Patricija Padelin ; General Hospital Zadar, Department of Pediatrics

Full text: english pdf 252 Kb

page 201-224

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The aim of this study was to examine the different aspects of anxiety symptoms: separation anxiety, social anxiety, test anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, worry, anxiety sensitivity, somatic symptoms in four groups of subjects: 1) children with headaches in pediatric care, 2) nonclinical headachers, 3) subjects with anxiety disorders, and 4) healthy controls.
The sample consisted of 187 schoolchildren: 43 patients with headaches as a primary complaint, 59 headachers recruited from the general population, 43 patients with a diagnosis of anxiety disorders and 42 healthy children in control group. Two questionnaires for children and adolescents were used: The Fear and Anxiety Scale and The Psychosomatic Symptoms Questionnaire. Headache problems were rated by experienced pediatric specialists.
There were no age and gender differences in anxiety symptoms in the two headache groups and control group. No significant differences were found on any of the anxiety subscales between headachers in pediatric care and headachers who did not ask for medical help. Significant differences in anxiety scales were found between headachers, anxious children and healthy controls. Headachers suffer from more anxiety problems than healthy controls. In the clinical sample of children suffering headaches anxiety problems of clinical relevance were found in range from 7% on the measures of excessive worry and anxiety sensitivity to 32% on the separation anxiety. In the community sample anxiety problems of clinical relevance were found in range from 5% on the measure of obsessive compulsive symptoms to 17% on the test anxiety.
The majority of children with headaches complaints do not have a clinically significant anxiety symptomathology, but the incidence of anxiety symptoms is higher than in a population of non-headachers.


headache; anxiety; psychosomatic symptoms; children

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