Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Information for the public

Please note that the CHESS Study is now closed to recruitment.

Study Summary:

Chronic headaches (headaches that occur on 15 or more days a month for at least 3 months) affect many people, but we have very little information on how to support people to manage their chronic headaches better and help them to make the best use of available drugs. CHESS was a randomised controlled trial which compared usual GP care plus a headache self-management programme with usual GP care plus a relaxation CD.

In the study, people were chosen at random (by chance alone) to be in one of two treatment groups. The two groups of people were compared over time to find out any differences between treatments.

The two treatment groups in CHESS were:

  • Usual GP care plus a group headache education and self-management support programme.
  • Usual GP care plus a relaxation CD.
What is the headache education and self-management programme?

The headache self-management programme is a short course run over two days (around 10:00am -15:00pm each day) held in local community settings with groups of about 8 -10 people who have chronic headaches. Groups were facilitated by a nurse and allied health professional who were trained to deliver the course. During the course participants were encouraged to talk with other people with chronic headaches and to think about their own lifestyle, experiences and behaviours. The course will include sessions about:

  • Headache information and mechanisms
  • Medication management
  • Mood and headaches
  • Stress and anxiety management
  • Unhelpful thinking patterns and how to manage these
  • Acceptance
  • Lifestyle management
  • Sleep and sleep management
  • Mindfulness for headaches
  • Problem solving, action planning and goal setting
  • Communicating with family and healthcare professionals
  • Managing setbacks.

Following the programme, participants completed a short one-to-one assessment with the nurse, which lasted no longer than 2 hours, and were offered up to 8 weeks of telephone support.

What is usual GP care plus relaxation?

Participants in the usual GP care plus relaxation CD group were provided with a relaxation CD and information on how to use this. They were asked to practice the relaxation as required. They continued to receive their usual healthcare whilst taking part in the CHESS study.


All participants were asked to complete a questionnaire at baseline, further questionnaires at approximately 4, 8 and 12 months. The questionnaire took approximately 15 minutes to complete and was returned by post.

Headache Diary:

All participants were asked to download and complete an electronic smartphone headache diary (a paper version was also available). Participants were asked to complete the electronic headache diary weekly for up to 6 months and then monthly until they'd been in the study for 12 months. The diary questions took approximately 5 minutes to complete. At the end of the study participants were able to receive a summary of the headache information their smartphone headache diary had collected.



Please direct all enquiries to:

ctuenquiries at warwick dot ac dot uk