Prevalence of migraines in NCAA division I male and female basketball players. National Collegiate Athletic Association

Headache. Jul-Aug 2002;42(7):620-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1526-4610.2002.02149.x.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the overall prevalence of migraines within National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I men's and women's basketball players. In addition, the prevalence of migraines was determined across gender and ethnic groups for the same sample.

Background: Although numerous studies have assessed the prevalence of migraines within the general population, college students, professional groups, industrial/work place settings, and overseas populations, little has been done with athletes. To the best of our knowledge, no study of the incidence of migraines in athletes has been previously conducted. It has also been reported that migraines cause depression, insomnia, fatigue, anorexia, nausea, and vomiting, all of which might hinder athletic performance. Sports medicine clinicians and researchers also agree that migraines in athletes are probably underreported and often misdiagnosed.

Methods: Seven hundred ninety-one Division I men and women basketball players representing 51 colleges and universities were mailed a previously validated survey asking questions about headaches. All surveys were analyzed with a validated diagnostic algorithm consistent with the International Headaches Society's (IHS) criteria for headache diagnosis. Descriptive statistics were used to report the prevalence rate for gender and ethnic groups, as well as the entire sample. Chi-square tests were performed (P = 0.05) to determine if there were any differences in the prevalence of migraines among gender and ethnic groups.

Results: Results showed that 2.9% (n = 23 of 791) of the total sample was classified as having migraines meeting IHS guidelines. In addition, 0.9% (n = 3 of 332) of men and 4.4% (n = 20 of 459) of women were classified as having migraines meeting IHS guidelines. Additionally, results showed that women reported migraines (chi2 = 8.140, P = 0.004) more often than men. When comparing the prevalence rates of migraines between ethnic groups, results showed that Caucasians had a rate of 3.3% (n = 14 of 429), whereas African Americans had a rate of 3.1% (n = 9 of 287). There was no significant difference found between ethnic groups in migraine prevalence (chi2 = 2.491, P = 0.2888).

Conclusions: In conclusion, it was found that the prevalence of migraines in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I men's and women's basketball players was generally less than in the general population, that women showed an increased prevalence of migraines when compared with men, and that Caucasians and African Americans did not differ in prevalence of migraines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Basketball / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / ethnology
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology