Epilepsy and Migraine Headache: Is There a Connection?

By Sharon Stevenson is a relevant scholarly work that deepens and promotes knowledge in the nursing profession. This is brought out clearly in the way she has approached the research through a relevant and appropriate choice of research dimensions like the problem to be researched, the purpose of the research, the methodology and even the relevance of the literature review. This paper will try to analyze the above dimensions and ascertain their relevance so that the validity and weight of the research is well understood. With this, it will be clear whether the research can be incorporated in the nursing profession or discarded for lack of relevance.

To begin with, Sharon Stevenson makes a clear problem statement. Any reader of this research will easily know that the problem in this research is the identification of whether migraine headaches and epilepsy have any relationship and whether family history has a role in both of them. This is a very relevant topic in the nursing profession. With the knowledge of the prevalence of migraine within the epileptic population, medical practitioners will ascertain the link between the two.

This will be a very vital step in the treatment of both diseases. However, is the problem clear and researchable? Without doubt, the answer is yes. The problem is clear and precise which qualifies it as a researchable problem. For ages, research has pointed out that epileptic patients reported a higher rate of migraines in comparison to the general population. This means that there has to be a link that makes epileptic patients be susceptible to migraines.

The role of a theoretical frame work is to identify related concepts, not necessarily those that have been established. This helps the researcher to have a frame of what he is supposed to measure and which statistical relationships are to be identified within the research (Borgatti, 1999, par. 1). With this background of the role of theoretical framework, what can we deduce as readers of the research? Reading through the research, one will clearly see the interrelated concepts. Epileptic patients tend to report higher cases of migraine than the general population (to be precise, 14% for the epileptic population against 2-11% for the general population).

In addition, the statistical relationships mark the foundation of the research. This points out that the research has a clear theoretical frame work which is clearly incorporated within the research and hence leading to the results. The research relates the rate of prevalence of migraines in epileptic patients and in general population and relates its findings with other researchers’ findings. For example, they both concur that migraines are more prevalent in the epileptic patients as compared to the general population. However, the research findings by Ottoman and Lipton (1996) that migraine was a risk that moved down the family history differs with the findings of Sharon in this research. This points out that the theoretical frame work was well translated into the research.

For a research topic to be well analyzed, there have to be a hypothesis on which the findings are based. In this case, Sharon Stevenson makes three clearly stated hypotheses (Access Excellence, 2009, par. 3). First, she points out that migraine and epilepsy are common medical conditions and thus could appear concurrently within an individual. Secondly, she points out that the established coexistence could be attributed to a common pathophysiologic basis which leads to both.

Finally, she makes her assumption that there could be a casual relationship between the two so that one leads to the development of another. These are justifiable assumptions considering other researches and medical records that have pointed out a higher prevalence of migraines in epileptic patients in comparison to the general population. For this to happen there has to be a link between them.

Either one condition leads to the development of the other or some genetic basis that corresponds with the two could lead to their comorbidity or the two may just appear concurrently because they are common in the general population and an individual is unlucky enough to have both conditions. The hypothesis in research is therefore clear very appropriate in developing of the purpose of the study.

Though not clearly stated in the research, there are some assumptions concerning the research problem. First, there is the assumption that there exists a link between migraine and epilepsy. This could be the only explanation of their being comorbid in many epileptic cases. Secondly, the there is the assumption that genetics have a role in the prevalence of migraine and epilepsy. This could be explained by the family history concerning the two conditions.

While the first assumption is clearly justified in the research, the second one remains unjustified. The findings of the research point out that the rate of migraine reporting for patients having epilepsy tend to surpass that of the general population. This finding is not only justified in this research but also in several other researches as pointed out in this particular research. However, the assumption that migraines happen to appear in family history was not justified by this particular research. This is not to say that it true that migraines cannot appear in family history. It is simply a call for more research concerning the same because other researches have pointed out otherwise.

To highlight the reliability of her research, Sharon includes several other studies in her literature review. She quotes marks and Ehrenberg who also identify with her findings. others include Yamane, Montenegro and Guerreiro (2004), Ottman and Lipton (1996), Vanmolkot et al (2003), etc. Some of them affirm her findings while others point out otherwise. The findings by Ottman and Lipton, for example point out that migraines have a string within the family history, a phenomenon that is found otherwise in this research. The sources in the review are reliable and scholarly.

The purpose of this study was to establish the prevalence of migraines in epileptic pediatric patients. In addition, it also aimed at identifying the incidence of the same medical conditions within the history of the family. The purpose is not only clearly stated but also very relevant to the problem. The problem of the research was, in one question, is migraine headaches and epilepsy related at all? This leads to the purpose of the study which is to identify and establish the prevalence of the two in the epileptic population as compared to the general population.

To establish whether there exists a relationship between phenomena A and B, one must first identify the extend to which these two happen to be appearing together. In this case, we can only ascertain whether there is a relationship between migraine headaches and epilepsy by identifying how prevalent one case is appearing within a primary diagnosis of the other. And as the research has pointed out, epileptic patients have reported a higher rate of migraine headaches as compared to the general population.

The investigator of a study gives credit to the findings and recommendations. For reliability of these findings, the investigator must have appropriate knowledge and experience relevant to problem in question. In this case, the research was compiled and analyzed by Sharon Stevenson. Looking at her profile, the investigator is worth doing the research in this field. Sharon is a nurse practitioner and also an advanced practice nurse at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Neurology Department. This means that she has had enough experience in the nursing career. Furthermore, this research was based on pediatric patients, which is the exact place where she works.

As a worker in Arkansas Children’s Hospital, it means that Sharon has dealt with issues of migraines and epilepsy which are rampant conditions in children. In addition, she used data from other relevant sources. Interviews were carried out by other physicians, nurses in the hospital, residents and medical students. It was from their data that Sharon eventually made her analysis of the situation. These are professionals who are responsible for the health wellbeing of the society. They are also well educated in dealing with medical complications, a skill that is relevant in the research of such a problem. Basing on the different members whose skills have been used to come up with the whole research, there is evidence that the research is reliable.

Using an experimental design, the research followed a chart review where patients with an epileptic primary diagnosis had their records followed and analyzed. In an experimental design, data is collected through observation and identification of cause and effect and other variables of interest (Michigan Institute of Technology, 2009, p. 4). In this case, data from interviews and records carried out earlier was observed and relationship between causes and effects was analyzed.

This was very important in this research because using observation in experimental design helps the researcher not to identify the cause and effect, but the relationship and association between the issues in question. In this case, the relationship between migraines and epilepsy was the major problem of the research. In addition, the study took a reasonable duration of time starting from 2003 in January and extending to June 2004. This is a period of about a year and several months.

For such a research a duration, the chances of a reliable result are high. The best part of the methodology is that all identifiers of the patients were removed so that the charts were used without the need of informed consent. With this, the chances of feigning results to suite the needs of the researchers were eliminated (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, 2009, par. 15). To facilitate the research, the study involved patients of various ages and of both sexes. It also considered the patients with epilepsy measured on the ICD-9-CM. with a total of 470 patients, the sample can be considered representative of the general population.

Considering the methodology used in the whole research, one can recognize its strengths and weaknesses. One of the strengths of this research is the design used. As pointed out earlier, experimental design usually uses observation as one of the means of data collection. The Michigan institute of technology (2009, p. 4) clearly identifies this method as the most favorite for cause and effect studies and researches. Similarly, this research seeks to determine the relationship between migraine headache and epilepsy. To establish the relationship, one must consider the causes and effects that could lead to the relationships. In addition, during the analysis, the data was collected from records kept by practitioners within the hospital. This points out that Sharon did not have to interview patients. This reduces the instances of bias. It also reduces the chances of the patient giving false information by discovering what the researcher is up to and hence trying to please her.

However, the weakness of this research can be identified in the sample. More than 2.5 million Americans have been diagnosed to be suffering from epilepsy. This population includes men, women and children. Yet, the sample included children only. The results found could be specific to children because the study was based on the records in a children’s hospital. This therefore gives a point of weakness in the study.

The findings of this research are reliable. This confidence is placed on by first evaluating the investigators. As mentioned earlier, Sharon Stevenson is a nurse practitioner and hence has the audacity to contribute in advancement of knowledge in her field. Secondly, the methodology is favorable. By use of observation and experimentation, it was easier to establish a relationship between epilepsy and migraine headaches. Finally, the confidence of this research is brought in by the number and duration of study. Although 470 cannot represent the 2.5 million epilepsy diagnosed Americans, and the numerous newly diagnosed cases, the number can be relied upon for reliable results.

The limitations to this research are clearly brought out. The researcher identified that some data collected by different interviewers looked inconsistent due to inaccuracy of information from interviewees. For instance, some children could not give a history of migraine and headache in their families. In addition, some children living with foster parents could not have their family history traced. However, another limitation could be identified in terms of the sample.

While this number used was reliable, the patients were all in Arkansas Children Hospital. This means that they were likely to come from within a similar and limited geographic location. As a result, some of the symptoms or even the relationship of epilepsy and migraine could be as a result of environment. This could make the results less applicable to other regions.

The conclusions of a research mark the core reason for the research. A good conclusion can serve a purpose of increasing knowledge base for further researches. In this report, the conclusion was that migraine reports for epileptic patients surpassed those of the general public. This means that epilepsy and migraine headaches are related. With the statistics pointing out the same, there are limited chances that there was any bias. Therefore, this leaves a research question, what is that exact link between migraines and epilepsy. This is the research question that needs further studies. Based on the methodology, the intensity of research and analysis, and the arrangement of the work, one could decide that the research is logical, organized and scholarly.

With such conclusions, it is clear that the research has a great implication on the nursing profession. Through such knowledge, nurses will understand that two conditions can coexist within an individual. Therefore, after a primary diagnosis of one condition, the nurse should further interview the patients in order to identify the presence of other conditions. This will be important in effective treatment and control. In addition, this research has led to another research topic, what is the exact cause of the relationship between the two medical conditions? Answering this question would mean the development of nursing.

As a conclusion, this was a very well researched study. All dimensions that are important in a research have been well tackled. The results are therefore reliable and the conclusions and implications should therefore be used to further nursing knowledge. Given a chance to carry out the same type of research, I would employ the same process for reliable results.

Reference List

Access Excellence. (2009). Writing Hypotheses: A student lesson. National Health Museum. Web.

Borgatti, S. (1999). Elements of Research. Web.

Michigan Institute of Technology. (2009). Research Methods and Experimental Design. Web.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. (2009). Research Methods. Web.

Ottoman R. and Lipton R. (1996). Is the comorbidity of migraine and epilepsy due to a shared genetic susceptibility? Journal of Neurology, 47, 918-924.

Stevenson, S. (2006). Epilepsy and migraine headache: Is there a connection? National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 20, 167-173.