Screen time exposure and reporting of headaches in young adults: A cross-sectional study

Cephalalgia. 2016 Oct;36(11):1020-1027. doi: 10.1177/0333102415620286. Epub 2016 Jul 19.


Objective The objective of this article is to investigate whether excessive screen time exposure is associated with non-migraine headache and migraine in young adults. Background Increased levels of television time have been associated with increased risk of headache. However, time spent using newer electronic devices with a screen (smartphone, tablet) has not been examined yet. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study among 4927 participants of the French i-Share cohort. Demographic characteristics, screen time exposure (computers, tablets, smartphones and television) as well as headache/migraine symptoms were recorded in a standardized questionnaire. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between screen time exposure and headache status. Results Participants had a mean age of 20.8 years and 75.5% were female. The multivariable model showed that students in the highest screen time exposure quintile had an increased risk for migraine. The odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval (CI)) was 1.37 (1.14 to 1.66) for migraine when compared with students without headache and with low screen time exposure. This association was somewhat stronger for migraine without aura (OR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.89). We found no significant association between screen time exposure and non-migraine headache. Conclusion High levels of screen time exposure are associated with migraine in young adults. No significant association was found with non-migraine headache.

Keywords: Screen time; cell phones; computers; headache; migraine disorders; students; tablets; television.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Causality
  • Computers, Handheld / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Headache / diagnosis*
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Television / statistics & numerical data*