Associations of socioeconomic status with migraine and non-migraine headache

Cephalalgia. 2012 Jan;32(2):159-70. doi: 10.1177/0333102411430854. Epub 2011 Dec 15.


Background: Migraine has been linked with several measures of socioeconomic status (SES). However, results are inconsistent and data on the association between SES and non-migraine headache, migraine subtypes and migraine frequency are sparse.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among 36,858 participants in the Women's Health Study. As proxy for SES, we calculated an SES index using annual household income and education. Migraine, migraine aura, and non-migraine headache were self-reported with good validation rates. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between the SES index and the various headache forms.

Results: Of the women participating in the study, 12,140 (32.9%) reported any history of headache, 6801 (18.4%) reported any history of migraine and 5339 (14.5%) reported non-migraine headache. Women with low SES had an increased risk for all headache forms. The multivariable-adjusted odds ratios (ORs; 95% CI) were 1.22 (1.10-1.36) for non-migraine headache, 1.40 (1.28-1.54) for any migraine, 1.44 (1.23-1.69) for migraine with aura, and 1.38 (1.21-1.58) for migraine without aura. Among active migraineurs, low SES was associated with an increased OR for ≥ weekly attack frequency (1.77, 1.26-2.49).

Conclusions: In this large cohort of female health professionals, low SES was associated with an increased prevalence for all headache forms and an increased migraine attack frequency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Headache / economics
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine with Aura / economics
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology*
  • Migraine without Aura / economics
  • Migraine without Aura / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires