Prevalence and burden of headache disorders in Lithuania and their public-health and policy implications: a population-based study within the Eurolight Project
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Journal of Headache and Pain. 2017, 18:53. 10.1186/s10194-017-0759-5
Background The Eurolight project assessed the impact of headache disorders in ten EU countries, using the same structured questionnaire but varying sampling methods. In Lithuania, sample selection employed methods in line with consensus recommendations for population-based burden-of-headache studies. Methods The survey was cross-sectional. We identified, from the Residents’ Register Service, a sample of inhabitants of Kaunas city and surrounding Kaunas region reflecting age (in the range 18–65 years), gender and rural/urban distributions of Lithuania. Medical students called unannounced at their homes and conducted face-to-face interviews employing a structured questionnaire. Results Of 1137 people in the pre-identified sample, 573 (male 237 [41.4%], female 336 [58.6%]; mean age 40.9 ± 13.8 years) completed interviews (participation proportion: 50.4%). Gender-adjusted 1-year prevalences were: any headache 74.7%; migraine 18.8%; tension-type headache (TTH) 42.2%; all headache on ≥15 days/month 8.6%; probable medication-overuse headache (pMOH) 3.2%. Migraine (OR: 3.6) and pMOH (OR: 2.9) were associated with female gender. All headache types except TTH were associated with significantly diminished quality of life. Migraine caused a mean 4.5% loss in paid worktime per affected male and 3.5% per affected female. Lost per-person times due to TTH were much less, but to pMOH and other headache on ≥15 days/month much higher. Among the entire workforce, lost productivity to migraine was estimated at 0.7%, to TTH 0.3% and to pMOH or other headache on ≥15 days/month 0.5%. The total of 1.5% may translate directly into lost GDP. Alternative calculations based on headache yesterday (with little recall error) produced, for all headache, a corroborating 1.7%. Similar losses from household work would also drain the nation’s economy. Our findings were comparable to those from earlier studies using similar methods in Russia and Georgia. Conclusions The multiple burdens from headache in Lithuania indicate substantial ill-health and unmet need for health care. The heavy burdens on individuals are matched by heavy economic burden. Of particular concern is the high prevalence of headache on ≥15 days/month, seen also in Russia and Georgia. Health policy in Lithuania must heed WHO’s advice that effective treatment of headache, clearly desirable for its health benefits, is also expected to be cost-saving.