Prevalence of Primary Headache Syndrome in Adults in the Qassim Region of Saudi Arabia


Dr. Mohammad AbduIJabbar, Associate Professor of Neurology, King Khalid University Hospital, PO Box 7805 (38), Riyadh 11472, Saudi Arabia.


Background and Purpose: Headache occurs worldwide, but documentation on the burden of headache in Saudi communities is quite limited. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of primary headache in a rural community in the Qassim region of Saudi Arabia.

Methods: A door-to-door survey of subjects older than 15 years of age was used for completion of a structured questionnaire to determine headache types based on defined criteria. Physical examination was used to exclude secondary causes.

Results: Of 5891 inhabitants, 473 suffered from headaches. The crude lifetime prevalence rate was 8% (95% CI, 7.3% to 8.7%) and with age adjustment was 9.3% (8.6% to 10%). Headache sufferers were predominantly women. The age-specific rate increased progressively, peaking in the sixth decade. Tension-type headache diagnosed in 185 subjects predominated (3.1%), while the prevalence of migraine was 2.6%.

Conclusion: The findings agree with the reported prevalence of 10% to 12% in other communities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but lower than the rates in Western countries. The lower rates are probably related to sociocultural factors.