Objective: To assess the reliability and validity of the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Short Form Health Survey as an indicator for quality of life in patients with chronic headaches.
Design: Patient interview survey.
Setting: A headache clinic within a multi-specialty group practice.
Patients: 208 consecutive patients seeking evaluation of headache at the above site.
Measurements: All six health components of the MOS Short Form Health Survey were included in the study.
Main results: The MOS Short Form Health Survey was both reliable and valid in the group of patients with headache. Patients with headache had significantly worse physical, social, and role functioning, and worse mental health than did patients with chronic diseases (P < 0.0001). The functioning associated with chronic headaches was worse than that associated with major chronic medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes, and was comparable to the level of functioning associated with recent myocardial infarction or congestive heart failure.
Conclusions: The MOS survey is a reliable measure of quality of life for patients with chronic headaches. Chronic headache disorders cause significantly more morbidity and impairment of function than has previously been appreciated.