Epidemiological Methods for Headache Studies

  • Lars Jacob StovnerEmail author
  • Timothy J. Steiner
Part of the Headache book series (HEAD)


Headache epidemiological studies are important for documenting the size of the public-health problem that is due to headache, for informing the provision of health services for headache and for research into headache causes and risk factors that may help prevent or alleviate headache disorders. Many such studies have been performed, but their results are often difficult to compare because of widely differing methods. Standardization of methodology is highly desirable, as are recommendations for improvement: much money and human resources can be squandered when the methodology is poor, or when an otherwise good study is reported inadequately.

In remedy, methodological guidelines for headache epidemiological studies were published in 2014 by a globally representative group of experts, under the auspices of the Global Campaign against Headache and with support from the International Headache Society. This chapter is based on these guidelines. It covers ethical aspects, defines key epidemiological concepts and discusses, at length, methodological issues around study design, sample selection, accessing and engaging participants, study instruments, diagnosis of headache types (and validation of the diagnostic method) and sources of error.


Headache disorders Epidemiology Population-based studies Population of interest Case definition Prevalence Incidence Bias Sample Methodology Guidelines Global Campaign against Headache 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neuromedicine and Movement ScienceNTNU Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Advisory Unit on Headaches, Department of Neurology and Clinical NeurophysiologySt Olavs University HospitalTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Division of Brain SciencesImperial College LondonLondonUK

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