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Subjective sensory sensitivity and its relationship with anxiety in people with probable migraine

Price, Alice ORCID:, Sumner, Petroc ORCID: and Powell, Georgina ORCID: 2021. Subjective sensory sensitivity and its relationship with anxiety in people with probable migraine. Headache 61 (9) , pp. 1342-1350. 10.1111/head.14219

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Objective To better characterize differences in interictal sensory experience in adults with migraine and more comprehensively describe the relevance of anxiety to these experiences. Background Evidence suggests that sensitivity to sensory input may not be limited to migraine attacks but continues between them. However, there is a need to better understand whether this is the case across senses, and to clearly distinguish sensory experience from measured sensory threshold, which are not straightforwardly related. Previous literature also indicates a co-occurrence between sensory sensitivity, migraine, and anxiety, but this relationship remains to be fully elucidated. Methods The present cross-sectional study used online questionnaires to investigate how self-reported sensory experiences relate to migraine in a large community sample including 117 individuals with probable migraine and 827 without. Mediation analyses were also used to determine whether any relationship between migraine and sensory sensitivity was mediated by anxiety. Results Significant increases in subjective reports of sensory sensitivity (d = 0.80) and sensory avoidance (d = 0.71) were found in participants with migraine. Anxiety symptoms partially mediated the relationship between subjective sensory sensitivity and migraine. Finally, visual, movement, and auditory subscales were found to provide unique explanatory variance in analyses predicting the incidence of migraine (area under the curve = 0.73, 0.69, 0.62 respectively). Conclusion Subjective sensory sensitivities are present between attacks and across senses in individuals with migraine. Anxiety symptoms are relevant to this relationship; however, sensory sensitivities appear to exist independent of this affective influence. The implications of interictal sensitivities for the daily lives of those with migraine should, therefore, be considered in clinical management wherever appropriate.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0017-8748
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 August 2021
Date of Acceptance: 11 August 2021
Last Modified: 08 May 2023 12:09

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