The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

The Journal of Headache and Pain Cover Image

Volume 15 Supplement 1

Abstracts from the 4th European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress: EHMTIC 2014

Open Access

EHMTI-0205. Methodology guidelines for population surveys of headache prevalence, burden and cost

  • L Stovner1,
  • M Al Jumah2,
  • G Birbeck3,
  • G Gururaj4,
  • R Jensen5,
  • Z Katsarava6,
  • L Queiroz7,
  • A Scher8,
  • R Tekle-Haimanot9,
  • S Wang10 and
  • T Steiner1
The Journal of Headache and Pain201415(Suppl 1):B36

Published: 18 September 2014


MigraineCase DefinitionGlobal BurdenHeadache DisorderConsensus Conference


The global burden of headache is very large, but knowledge of it is far from complete. Published population-based studies have used variable methodology, which has influenced findings and made comparisons difficult.


To produce consensus-based methodological guidelines [1] with the main focus on migraine, tension-type headache and medication-overuse headache, but not intended to be exclusive to these.


An expert consensus group including experience and competence in headache epidemiology and epidemiology in general was drawn from all six WHO world regions. Drafts were discussed and revised by email before and after a three-day consensus conference in September 2011, and eventually revised after a public consultation posting on the International Headache Society website.


The recommendations cover most methodological issues: study design; definition of population of interest; control of bias, sample selection and participation rate; how to access and engage participants, and methods of enquiry; case definition and diagnosis, and algorithm for making headache diagnoses; use of pilot studies; measurement of headache burden. There are also discussions of how to report studies and evaluate other studies, as well as of ethical issues.


The principles should be useful to researchers whose main interests are in the field of headache, but they also seek to encourage collaborations between specialists in headache disorders and epidemiologists.

No conflict of interest.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Prince Mohammed Ben Abdulaziz Hospital, King Saud Ben Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Department of Neurology, University of Rochester, Rochester, USA
Department of Neurology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India
Danish Headache Centre Glostrup Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Evangelical Hospital Unna, University of Duisburg-Essen, Unna, Germany
Department of Neurology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil
Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, USA
School of Medicine Department of Neurology, Addis Ababa Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababsa, Ethiopia
The Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan


  1. Stovner LJ, Al Jumah M, Birbeck GL, et al.: The methodology of population surveys of headache prevalence, burden and cost: Principles and recommendations from the Global Campaign against Headache. J Headache Pain 2014, 15: 5. 10.1186/1129-2377-15-5PubMed CentralPubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar


© Stovner et al; licensee Springer. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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