One-year follow-up of headache in an adult general population

Headache. 2005 Apr;45(4):337-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2005.05071.x.


Objective: To investigate variation in headache occurrence and characteristics over 1 year.

Background: Headache is a common condition which can affect the work, home, and social lives of sufferers, yet surprisingly little is known about how headache changes over time.

Methods: Postal survey to a random general population sample of 5000 adults aged 18 years plus, with follow-up survey to all baseline responders at 1 year and a subsample of 500 being surveyed at 3-monthly intervals between the baseline and 1-year surveys.

Results: A total of 1589 (74% response) responded to the 1-year follow-up and 282 of the subsample responded to all five surveys at 3-monthly intervals. Among 1-year respondents with recent headache at baseline (defined as occurring during the previous 3 months), nearly all (94%) also reported headache during the follow-up year. One-third of respondents without recent headache at baseline reported a new episode of headache during the follow-up year. Most (85%) respondents with recent headache at both baseline and 1-year follow-up reported a variation in at least one headache characteristic. These findings were replicated in the sample completing the 3-monthly surveys. Although most of this subgroup reported their headache occurrence status was unchanged during each 3-month period, only a few (3%) respondents with headache in each period reported no variation at all in headache characteristics during the study.

Conclusions: While prevalence of recent headache was stable over time for individuals, there was considerable variation in headache characteristics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Headache / psychology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology