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J Headache Pain. 2013 Feb 14;14(1):11. doi: 10.1186/1129-2377-14-11.

Period prevalence of self-reported headache in the general population in Germany from 1995-2005 and 2009: results from annual nationwide population-based cross-sectional surveys.

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  • 1Deptment Neurology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Klinikum Großhadern, Munich, Germany. Andreas.Straube@med.uni-muenchen.de



Although primary headache is the most frequent neurological disorder and there is some evidence that the prevalence rates have increased in recent years, no long-term data on the annual prevalence of headache are available for Germany. The objective of the study was therefore to obtain long-term data on the period prevalence of headache in the general population in Germany by means of population-based cross-sectional annual surveys (1995-2005 and 2009).


These surveys were conducted as face-to-face paper-and-pencil interviews from 1995 through 2004, and from 2005 onwards as computer-aided personal interviews. The reported headaches were self-diagnosed by the interviewees. Per year, approximately 640 trained interviewers interviewed between 10,898 and 12,538 German-speaking individuals aged 14 and older and living in private households in the whole of Germany (response rate: 67.4% and 73.1%, gross samples: 16,026 to 18,176 subjects). A total of more than 146,000 face-to-face interviews were analyzed.


The one-year headache prevalence remained stable over the entry period, with 58.9% (95%CI 57.7-60.1) to 62.5% (95%CI 61.3-63.7) (p=0.07). Women showed consistently higher prevalence rates than men (females: 67.3 (95%CI 65.7-68.9) to 70.7% (95%CI 69.1-72.3), males: 48.4% (95%CI 46.5-50.3) to 54.3% (95%CI 52.4-56.2)), and both sexes showed a bell-shaped age dependence with peaks in the 30-39 age group. A stable slightly higher prevalence was observed in urban versus rural areas (p<0.0001), and there was also a significant trend towards higher prevalence rates in groups with a monthly household income larger than 3,500 € (p=0.03).


The overall headache prevalence remained stable in Germany in the last 15 years.

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