Get access

Evaluation of the Impact of Migraine and Episodic Tension-type Headache on the Quality of Life and Performance of a University Student Population


Address all correspondence to Prof. Dr. José G. Speciali, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Departamento de Neurologia, Av. Bandeirantes, 3900, 14049-900 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil.


Objective.—To determine the prevalence of migraine and episodic tension-type headache (ETTH) among university students as well as its impact on academic performance and quality of life.

Background.—Headache is a very common symptom in clinical practice. The reduced capacities due to migraine can be profound, and more studies are needed to evaluate, in particular, school performance. Few studies have been conducted to evaluate the impact of tension-type headache on work productivity, quality of life, and the impact of headache on school performance.

Methods.—A total of 1022 students were interviewed. Two questionnaires were utilized, a standard one that permitted a diagnosis of migraine or ETTH according to the criteria of the International Headache Society and a second one consisting of a battery of tests on quality of life.

Results.—A total of 256 students (25%) had migraine and 336 (32.9%) reported ETTH. When in pain, migraineurs demonstrated a 62.7% decrease in productivity while studying, compared with a 24.4% decrease in those with ETTH. Fifty percent of migraineurs tried to study despite the pain, compared with 53.2% of those with ETTH. With respect to all other items tested, there was a significantly higher impairment in the presence of migraine than in the presence of ETTH and in the presence of the latter compared with a control situation.

Conclusions.—The present study confirms the profound impact of headache on the performance of university students, with this impact much more evident among migraineurs but also important among students with ETTH.