• headaches;
  • prevalence;
  • adolescent;
  • predictors

Objective.—To explore the associated factors for frequent headache among young adolescent Canadians.

Methods.—We analyzed the self-administered questionnaire microdata files of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY: 1996 to 1997). Two thousand and ninety respondents representing 793,100 Canadian youth aged 12 to 13 years were asked how often they had headaches in the previous 6 months.

Results.—Of the 2090 adolescents, 1998 (96%) responded. Frequent headaches of “about once a week” or more often were reported by 26.6% of them aged 12 to 13 years (95% CI: 24.2, 28.6). Frequent headaches appear to be associated with a plethora of risk factors germane to the life experience of these young adolescents. All factors were significant at P < .0001 by chi-square analysis and can be loosely categorized as school-related, lifestyle-related, or involving mental health. A multivariate Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis models frequent headaches on a depression scale, a self-esteem scale, and ever having smoked, with 60% sensitivity, and 65% specificity.

Conclusions.—The NLSCY reveals a remarkable insight into headache frequency and the life experience of Canada's young adolescents with frequent headaches.