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Keywords:

  • migraine;
  • headache;
  • prevalence;
  • epidemiology;
  • American Migraine Study

Objective.—To describe the prevalence, sociodemographic profile, and the burden of migraine in the United States in 1999 and to compare results with the original American Migraine Study, a 1989 population-based study employing identical methods.

Methods.—A validated, self-administered questionnaire was mailed to a sample of 20 000 households in the United States. Each household member with severe headache was asked to respond to questions about symptoms, frequency, and severity of headaches and about headache-related disability. Diagnostic criteria for migraine were based on those of the International Headache Society. This report is restricted to individuals 12 years and older.

Results.—Of the 43 527 age-eligible individuals, 29 727 responded to the questionnaire for a 68.3% response rate. The prevalence of migraine was 18.2% among females and 6.5% among males. Approximately 23% of households contained at least one member suffering from migraine. Migraine prevalence was higher in whites than in blacks and was inversely related to household income. Prevalence increased from aged 12 years to about aged 40 years and declined thereafter in both sexes. Fifty-three percent of respondents reported that their severe headaches caused substantial impairment in activities or required bed rest. Approximately 31% missed at least 1 day of work or school in the previous 3 months because of migraine; 51% reported that work or school productivity was reduced by at least 50%.

Conclusions.—Two methodologically identical national surveys in the United States conducted 10 years apart show that the prevalence and distribution of migraine have remained stable over the last decade. Migraine-associated disability remains substantial and pervasive. The number of migraineurs has increased from 23.6 million in 1989 to 27.9 million in 1999 commensurate with the growth of the population. Migraine is an important target for public health interventions because it is highly prevalent and disabling.