Migraine Term of the Day - Locus of Control

Patient Expert
Medically Reviewed

migraine glossaryWriter's note: Some of you have expressed an interest in learning more of the medical terminology that comes up when discussing migraine disease and other headache disorders. So, I'll be posting a "term of the day," on a regular basis. If there are terms you'd like to have defined, please leave a comment below.

When we're given migraine and headache information, whether from our doctor, a book, or an online article, we sometimes come across medical terms that can be confusing. While it's easy enough to substitute another word or a short phrase for the medical term, there are times when substituting doesn't quite convey the same meaning.

Locus of control is one of those terms. It's frequently used when talking about migraine symptoms and medications and is also an important word for migraineurs to understand.


Locus of control is the extent to which we perceive that outcomes in our lives result from our own choices and behaviors (internal locus of control) or from outside forces (external locus of control).

Here's an example of how it's used in a sentence:A patient's locus of control can have significant impact on the success or failure of their treatment.


Patients with an external locus of control expect their doctors to be able to "fix" their migraines with no participation in their own health care. They tend to have unrealistic expectations of their health care team and their treatments. Patients with an internal locus of control look to themselves as well as their health care teams for solutions and good migraine management. Patients with an internal locus of control have better treatment outcomes. For more about locus of control, see Migraine Management — Wishes Won't Wash Dishes.

For more terms, see our Migraine Medical Terms Glossary Index.