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PRIMARY CARE FOR WOMEN: Assessment and Management of Headache


  • Eileen Barrett RN, MS, CS

    Corresponding author
    1. Eileen Barrett is an adult nurse practitioner in the Women's Health Group at Boston University Medical Center. She graduated in 1987 from the Boston University School of Nursing. Her particular Interests include working with menopausal women and health prevention issues.
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Address correspondence to Eileen Barrett, RN, MS, CS, 720 Harrison Avenue, DOB 404, Boston, MA 02118.


Headache is the seventh leading presenting complaint for ambulatory care encounters in the United States, which accounts for 18.3 million, or 43.2 per 1,000, outpatient visits per year Headache disorders have historically been difficult to track and study. This problem has been greatly ameliorated since the development, in 1988, of the international headache classification of the International Headache Society Tension-type headache and migraine headache predominantly affect women, whereas cluster headache predominately affects men. Advances both in diagnosis and in treatment modalities such as prophylactic treatments, stress reduction and biofeedback, and the use of sumatriptan, have helped to make the management of headache appropriate for nurse-midwives in the primary care setting.