Information on the prevalence, characteristic features and possible causative factors of headache was collected from 1138 adults who participated in a multiphasic health survey in Milton in May 1981.

Thirty-nine percent of men and 60% of women experienced headaches in the year preceding the survey. Total prevalence of headache peaked in men 30–39 years and in women aged 20–29 years and thereafter decreased with increasing age.

The most commonly reported positions for headache were at the forehead unilaterally and bilaterally. The most common precipitating factors were ‘too much’ alcohol (men only), tiredness, mental stress and eye strain. Chocolate was the food most commonly blamed for the headache.

No association was found between headache frequency and blood pressure or smoking habit. However the psychometric scores for anger, anxiety and depression were positively related to frequency of headache.