The purpose of our study was to determine whether or not patients reporting weekend headache exhibit distinctive features in their work habits, family life, and leisure on workdays and on weekends as compared to other headache sufferers, and whether or not they are inclined to change their living habits at the weekend.
The study was done on an initial sample of 50 patients referred to the University of Parma Headache Centre between October 1996 and April 1997. These patients completed a specially designed questionnaire which, in addition to demographics, contained specific questions relevant to the subject matter being investigated. They were also given a diary which they had to complete for 8 consecutive weeks in order to determine the actual frequency of headache attacks over different days of the week.
The questionnaire data were only analyzed for the 38 women in the sample, because there were too few male controls for an accurate comparison with weekend headache sufferers. Among the women with weekend headache, work habits, family life, and leisure were such as to suggest a possible increase in stress and frustration on weekends, which might have made them perceive the headaches occurring on Saturdays and Sundays as more severe. No changes were found in the intake of substances such as coffee and alcohol, nor in cigarette smoking over the different days of the week. Finally, analysis of the diaries showed an increased frequency of headache attacks on weekends only among the men, which seems to corroborate the hypothesis of weekend headache as a disorder typically affecting men.