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Research

The Balance and Falls Center at UCSF is interested in trying to research practical questions about dizziness in vertigo. We are also especially focused on vestibular migraine, as it is the most common form of dizziness that we see. We are interested in:

  • How prevalent are dizziness and vertigo?
  • What is the best way to evaluate patients with dizziness and vertigo?
  • What are the best treatment options for different types of dizziness and vertigo?
  • We are also interested in patient attitudes, neurocognitive effects, and predictors of treatment success

There are several current studies that are currently enrolling:

Current Studies

The Effectiveness of Mindfulness for Vestibular Migraine

Vestibular migraine is one of the most common causes of dizziness. Medications are often effective, but many patients with vestibular migraine cannot tolerate medications due to side effects. Therefore, we are interested in finding alternative treatment options. Prior studies of patients with migraines have shown that structured mindfulness based stress reduction courses can reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Therefore, we are investigating whether or not such a course can reduce symptoms in our patients who have vestibular migraine. Through a partnership with UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, we are studying the effectiveness of a course of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for improving symptoms of vestibular migraine. With the help of a grant from the Association of Migraine Disorders, we are enrolling subjects who meet criteria for vestibular migraine and are willing to participate in a once-per-week 8 week stress reduction course at UCSF. We will then track symptoms before, during, and after the course.

Predictors of Vestibular Treatment Success

In this larger study, we are recruiting subjects with different vestibular disorders in a prospective database that will be able to track the effectiveness of different treatment options, and whether or not certain factors can help predict treatment success.

VM-PATHI: Vestibular Migraine Patient Assessment Tool and Handicap Inventory

For patients with a confirmed diagnosis with Vestibular Migraine, this survey is a validated measure of disease related suffering. Scores are possible between 0 to 100; with 0 indicating no disease related suffering, and 100 indicating the highest possible disease related suffering. The score appears at the bottom of the form, and is updated in real-time. This tool is not intended for diagnosis; but instead to help guide research into vestibular migraine. If you believe you are suffering from Vestibular Migraine; please contact your local qualified medical professional. 

Development of VM-PATHI was generously supported by Hearing Research Inc.

Click here to take the survey

Click here for the Pubmed reference for the manuscript that provides additional information on the development and validation of VM-PATHI

Past studies:

Understanding the Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI): A Cross Sectional Analysis of Symptom Factors That Contribute to DHI Variance. Formeister EJ, Krauter R, Kirk L, Zhu TR, Rizk HG, Sharon JD. Otol Neurotol. 2020 Jan;41(1):86-93. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000002438. PMID: 31644479

In this study, we looked at the Dizziness Handicap Inventory, a widely used patient reported measure of dizziness, to find out what contributes to worse dizziness related symptoms. We found that scores were higher when anxiety and depression were present, and also if the dizziness had more triggers, more descriptors, and occurred more frequently.

The Interrelations Between Different Causes of Dizziness: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Vestibular Disorders. Zhu RT, Van Rompaey V, Ward BK, Van de Berg R, Van de Heyning P, Sharon JD. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2019 Sep;128(9):869-878. doi: 10.1177/0003489419845014. Epub 2019 Apr 25. Review. PMID: 31018648

In this study, we synthesized available data to present a conceptual framework for understanding different causes of dizziness and their interrelationships.

The Epidemiology of Vestibular Migraine: A Population-based Survey Study. Formeister EJ, Rizk HG, Kohn MA, Sharon JD. Otol Neurotol. 2018 Sep;39(8):1037-1044. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000001900. PMID: 30020261

In this study, using a large database (NHIS), we calculated that vestibular migraine affects 2.7% of adults in the United States.