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Headache and Stress in a Group of Nurses and Government Administrators in Japan


Dr. Toshihide Nadaoka, Department of Neuro-Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Yamagata University, lida-Nishi 2-2-2, Yamagata City, 990-23 Japan


We surveyed a group of 311 nurses and 283 mid-level government administrators in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, to determine the prevalence and character of their headaches. We investigated the relationship of headaches to the subjects' stress, and their behaviour and coping patterns. The questionnaire we administered explored background factors, as well as the state of the respondents' mental health, life events, work motivation, support system, and interpersonal relationships.

The questionnaire was completed by 76.8% of nurses and 100% of administrators. Of these, 40.6% of nurses and 19.1% of the administrators reported recurrent headaches Furthermore, the number of headache sufferers among the women administrators was significantly higher than in the men. The nurses and the administrators who reported headache scored significantly higher than the nonheadache groups on the questions measuring symptoms of burnout, General Health Questionnaire, and learned helplessness. The group of nurses with headache had higher scores for life events, decreased work motivation. and nervous behavior than the nonheadache group; the administrators with headache scored higher for daily hassles than those of the nonheadache groups. In this study of a Japanese sample, the character of the subjects' headache and the possible inducing factors are consistent with those reported in studies of Europeans and Americans using similar testing methods. However, the high prevalence of headache among nurses and women administrators seems to be related to psychological stress, particularly work stress, which may be characteristic in Japan.