Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Nursing


Not Listed

Committee Chair

Margaret Burkhardt.


Multiple studies have addressed migraine headache in recent years. There is little research related to women.s experiences of living with migraine headache. Researchers have explored migraine headache from a pathophysiological perspective and medical treatment perspective. Studies exploring what it is like for women to live with migraine headache on a day-to-day life basis have not been produced. This qualitative study explored the lived experience of eight women who had migraine headache. Participant stories were gathered and analyzed using the middle range story theory and the phenomenological approach described by van Manen. A structure of meaning of living with migraine headaches with seven interrelated core qualities emerged from this study. Living with migraine headache is: (a) recalling the significant experience that reshaped life; (b) experiencing self as vulnerable, with unmet expectations, unfulfilled relationships, and regrets; (c) being overcome by unrelenting, torturous pain magnified by intrusion from the outside world; (d) pushing through to hold self together to do what needs to be done, in spite of torturous pain; (e) surrendering to the compelling call to focus on self in order to relieve the torturous pain; (f) making the most of pain-free time to get on with life and navigating the aftermath of the headache experience; and (g) being on guard against an unpredictable attack and yet hopeful that it is possible to outsmart the next attack. The findings of this study suggest that women with migraine headache endure physical, emotional and spiritual suffering not identified in the current literature. Theoretical, practical, and educational implications are discussed.