In this study, patterns of analgesic use among persons with headache in the general Swedish population were analyzed in association with health factors, health care utilization, sociodemographic factors, and life-style.
Data from the Swedish Survey of Living Conditions for the 2-year period 1988 through 1989 were used. In this survey, a probability sample of the Swedish population aged 16 years and older was interviewed. Persons with headache were identified by the question, “Have you (during the last 2 weeks) had recurrent headache or migraine?” Analgesic use was defined by the question, “Have you (during the last 2 weeks) used prescription or nonprescription analgesics?” Persons who answered both these questions were included in the present study, yielding a study population of 11 975 persons.
Sixteen percent of all women and 8.2 percent of all men reported headache. Seventy-four percent of all women with headache reported analgesic use as compared to 64% of all men with headache. Analgesic use increased with increasing age among women but not men. While few of the studied factors were associated with analgesic use among persons with headache, the associations found differed by gender. Poor social network and musculoskeletal pain were associated with analgesic use among men with headache; age, being underweight, and visits to a physiotherapist were associated with analgesic use among women with headache.
Those studying medication use among persons with headache might consider including these factors in future studies to help better understand the mechanisms behind the decision to use or avoid analgesics.