Background: European data, at least from Western Europe, are relatively good on migraine prevalence but less sound for tension-type headache (TTH) and medication-overuse headache (MOH). Evidence on impact of headache disorders is very limited. Eurolight was a data-gathering exercise primarily to inform health policy in the European Union (EU). This manuscript reports personal impact.
Methods: The study was cross-sectional with modified cluster sampling. Surveys were conducted by structured questionnaire, including diagnostic questions based on ICHD-II and various measures of impact, and are reported from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom. Different methods of sampling were used in each. The full methodology is described elsewhere.
Results: Questionnaires were analysed from 8,271 participants (58% female, mean age 43.4 y). Participation-rates, where calculable, varied from 10.6% to 58.8%. Moderate interest-bias was detected. Unadjusted lifetime prevalence of any headache was 91.3%. Gender-adjusted 1-year prevalences were: any headache 78.6%; migraine 35.3%; TTH 38.2%, headache on ≥15 d/mo 7.2%; probable MOH 3.1%. Personal impact was high, and included ictal symptom burden, interictal burden, cumulative burden and impact on others (partners and children). There was a general gradient of probable MOH > migraine > TTH, and most measures indicated higher impact among females. Lost useful time was substantial: 17.7% of males and 28.0% of females with migraine lost >10% of days; 44.7% of males and 53.7% of females with probable MOH lost >20%.
Conclusions: The common headache disorders have very high personal impact in the EU, with important implications for health policy.