The nature and impact of headache presenting to a general practitioner: a case-control pilot study

M. Rook, Blair Hamilton Smith, Alison Margaret Elliott, D. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Research has shown that headache can have a significant impact, but little is known about the differences between people who present with headache in general practice and those who do not present. We compared the health, and the reported frequency, severity and duration of headaches, between people who had consulted a general practitioner (GP) with their headache and those who had not.

Methods: Retrospective case-control study in a practice in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Results: There were 106 cases and 106 controls; a response rate of 53%. Individuals who consulted with headaches had more frequent, more severe and longer lasting headaches, poorer health status, more days off work and housework and made more GP consultations for headache and non-headache conditions.

Conclusions: Individuals who consult with headaches produce a greater workload for general practice than those who do not. This could reflect differences in overall health, or in help-seeking behaviour. The findings suggest the need for further research to support headache sufferers in primary care and to inform the self-management of headache.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-34
Number of pages3
JournalHeadache Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006



  • GP workload
  • headache
  • primary care
  • retrospective case-control
  • self management

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