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New study to help improve life for headaches sufferers

A study led by University of Warwick could help thousands of headache sufferers.

Researchers at the Warwick Medical School are investigating whether a new education and self-management programme will help improve quality of life for people living with chronic headaches.

The study, Chronic Headache Education and Self-management Study (CHESS), is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, and is led by Professor Martin UnderwoodMartin Underwood. Professor Underwood said:

“Headache disorders are a major cause of pain and disability and their main impact is in younger adults many of whom have both work and family commitments. The annual cost of headache disorders to the UK is £5-7 billion."

People with chronic headaches have headaches (including migraine) on 15 or more days every month. One in thirty of the population are living with this condition, however there is very little information available about how to support people to manage their headaches, including migraine, or help them to make the best use of available treatments.

People living with chronic headache, including migraine, in the Midlands and London are being invited to take part in the study by their GP or by contacting the research team directly if they would like to take part. Half of study participants will randomly allocated to a two-day education and self-management programme to help them manage and cope with their headaches better.

Participants will learn more about headache disorders, medication management, sleep, exercise, diet, mood, relaxation, mindfulness and communicating their experiences to family and healthcare workers. Following the programme participants will have a short one to one assessment with a nurse and be offered up to eight weeks of telephone support. Those not attending the headache education and self-management programme will receive a relaxation CD and information about their headache type.

Professor Underwood added: “Self-management support programmes have an established place in the management of a range of chronic diseases and we are hoping our study will establish an effective method of treating such a common but potentially debilitating condition”.

The results could vastly improve the lives of headache sufferers and will help GPs and other healthcare professionals more effectively treat patients with chronic headaches in the future.

To find out more about the study visit

If you would like to take part in the study contact Kimberley White CHESS Trial Coordinator on 02476 151 634 or email

29 January 2018

Notes for editors

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:

• funds high quality research to improve health

• trains and supports health researchers

• provides world-class research facilities

• works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all

• involves patients and the public at every step

For further information, visit the NIHR website (

For further details contact
Nicola Jones, Media Relations Manager University of Warwick
07920531221 or