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J Headache Pain. 2008 Jun;9(3):139-46. doi: 10.1007/s10194-008-0038-6. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Impact of headache in Europe: a review for the Eurolight project.

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Norwegian National Headache Centre, Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.


A recent health economic survey in Europe has suggested that migraine is the costliest among the neurological disorders. According to many studies, migraine and other disorders lead to widespread suffering, reduction of quality of life, and marked impairment of participation, both in work and social activities. The present literature survey was made in order to summarize what is known on the subject, as a preparation for a EU-supported study to assess the impact in several EU countries with similar methodology and the same research instrument. Previous studies have yielded relatively reliable data only for migraine, whereas the impact of tension-type headache is virtually unknown or only very incompletely known for most dimensions of headache impact. Some data do suggest, however, that this headache may be as important from a health economic and a public health perspective as migraine. In future studies it is important to get population-based data from various countries relevant for estimation of indirect (mostly absenteeism from work and reduced working efficiency when having headache) and direct costs (related to medication, consultations, investigations and hospitalisations). Also, the impact on ability to get education and participate in the workforce is very relevant, as is the impact on love life and family planning. The quality of life of headache patients should be measured by validated instruments. To get a complete picture, one should also ask about the effect on the life of partners and children, and on the possible impact even when headache-free (e.g. fear of the next attack).

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