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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 is a randomised controlled trial which is comparing usual GP care plus a headache self-management programme with usual GP care plus a relaxation CD. The results of the study will be used to help patients with chronic headaches in the future.

This is a study where people are chosen at random (by chance alone) to be in one of two treatment groups. The two groups of people are compared over time to find out any differences between treatments.

The two treatment groups in CHESS are:

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

If you choose to take part, your GP will also be informed of which allocation you are randomised to receive.

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 will be facilitated by a nurse and allied health professional who have been trained to deliver the course. During the course you will be encouraged to talk with other people with chronic headaches and think about your 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, you will have a short one-to-one assessment with the nurse, which will take no longer than 2 hours, and be offered up to 8 weeks telephone support.

What is usual GP care plus relaxation?

If you are in the usual GP care plus relaxation CD group we will provide you with a relaxation CD and information on how to use this. You will be asked to practice the relaxation as required. You can continue to receive your usual healthcare whilst taking part in the CHESS study.


All participants will be asked to complete a questionnaire at baseline, further questionnaires at approximately 4, 8 and 12 months. The questionnaire will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and a freepost envelope will be provided for their return.

Headache Diary:

All participant will be asked to download and complete an electronic smartphone headache diary (a paper version will be provided if you do not have access to a smartphone). You will be asked to complete the electronic headache diary weekly for up to 6 months and then monthly until you have been in the study for 12 months, it will take approximately 5 minutes to complete the questions. At the end of the study you will have the option to receive a summary of the headache information your smartphone headache diary has collected.



Please direct all enquiries to:

Kimberley White
CHESS Trial Coordinator

Tel: 02476 151 634
Email: chess at warwick dot ac dot uk