Headache characteristics associated with physician consultation: a population-based survey

Am J Prev Med. Jan-Feb 1991;7(1):40-6.


In a population-based telephone interview survey of 9,380 Washington County, Maryland, residents 12-29 years of age who reported a headache in the prior year, only 26.7% of women and 13.6% of men had ever sought a physician's advice for a headache problem. Women (13.9%) were more than twice as likely as men (5.6%) to have consulted a doctor for this condition within the previous 12 months. The likelihood of seeking medical care for headache increased with age among women but not men. Married women were more likely to have consulted with a physician for a headache problem than single or divorced women. Men and women consulting a doctor for this disorder within the previous 12 months described recent headaches (within the prior week) that were more severe, of longer duration (women only), and more likely to have migraine characteristics than recent headaches of persons not seeking medical attention. Compared with persons never consulting a physician for a headache problem, men and women who sought medical care had elevated attack rates of certain, probable, and possible migraine and mixed migraine-tension type headaches within the preceding week. Differences in attack rates for migraine and mixed migraine-tension headaches between those who recently and those who more than 12 months ago sought a physician's advice were more striking for men than for women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Headache / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Referral and Consultation*