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Prevalence of migraine

 

Clinical bottom line

The prevalence of migraine in women is 17% and in men is 6%


To investigate the prevalence of migraine, studies were looked for that used International Headache Society criteria for migraine in large samples of adults. The results of individual studies are shown in Table 1 below.

The samples were large, and ranged from 1,200 to over 20,000 people (about 58,000 in total), were in adults, were conducted in Europe or North America, and generally used a random sample of a population. The range of results for women was between 11.9% and 21.9%, and for men between 4.0% and 8.2%. The weighted mean prevalence for women was 17% and for men was 6%.

Figure 1: Individual migraine prevalence studies (pink for women, blue for men). Vertical lines are weighted means




Table 1: Studies reporting prevalence of migraine over one year or lifetime using IHS criteria



  Lifetime or one year prevalence (%)

Reference

Type of study

Sample source

Sample size

Age range

Men

Women

Overall

Breslau et al, 1991 Survey, face-to-face interview HMO population, random sample, USA

1,200

21 to 30

7.0

16.3

12.8

Gobel et al, 1994 Survey, face-to-face interview General population, random sample, Germany

5,000

18 +

7.0

15.0

11.0

Henry et al, 1992 Survey, face-to-face interview General population, stratified quota with random element, France

4204

15 +

4.0

11.9

8.1

Linet et al, 1989 Survey, telephone interview General population, residents of Washington County, Maryland USA

10,000

12 to 29

5.3

14.0

O'Brien et al, 1994 Survey, telephone interview General population, random sample, Canada

4235

18 +

7.4

21.9

Rasmussen et al, 1991 Prospective survey, clinical exam General population, random sample, Denmark

1000

25-64

6.0

15.0

10.0

Stewart et al, 1992 Survey, PSAQ General population, random sample, USA

20,468

12 to 80

5.7

17.6

Stewart et al, 1996 Survey, telephone interview General population, USA

12,000

18 to 65

8.2

19.0

Comment

Migraine is a common condition affecting a substantial number of women in particular. Perhaps only one in five patients with migraine seek medical help, partly because they consider treatments are ineffective, or because they fear adverse effects.