• quality of life;
  • medical outcomes


Background: To analyze the differences in quality of life associated with headache diagnoses using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey (SF-20).

Methods: A patient interview survey using the SF-20 Short Form Health Survey was conducted in a headache clinic within a multi-specialty group practice. All six health components of the SF-20 were included in the study, Headache diagnoses were made using IHS criteria.

Results: 208 consecutive headache patients were studied. Patients with cluster headache had a significantly higher (worse) pain score (P<0.018) and higher percentage of patients with poor health due to pain (P<0.005) than patients with migraine headache. There were fewer cluster patients with poor health associated with physical functioning than tension-type (P<0.020) or mixed headache (P<0.022) patients. Poor health associated with social functioning was greater for cluster (P<0.011) and tension-type headache (P<0.015) than for migraine. There was a significantly higher percentage of tension-type headache patients with poor health associated with mental health (P<0.002) than patients with migraine.

Conclusions: The SF-20 is a reliable and valid measure of quality of life for patients with different headache diagnoses. Distinct headache diagnoses are marked by unique patterns of impairment and quality of life.