The primary aim of this study was to investigate time trends of major headache diagnoses using cross-sectional data from two population-based health surveys. In addition, we aimed to perform a longitudinal assessment of baseline characteristics and subsequent risk for having headache at 22-years’ follow-up among those participating in three health surveys.
Data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT) performed in 1995-1997 (HUNT2), 2006-2008 (HUNT3) and 2017-2019 (HUNT4) were used. The 1-year prevalence time trends of major headache diagnoses were estimated among 41,460 participants in HUNT4 and among 39,697 participants in HUNT3, two surveys with identical headache questions. 16,118 persons participated in all three surveys, and among these, a Poisson regression was used to evaluate health-related baseline information in HUNT2 and the risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence interval (CIs) of consistently reporting headache during follow-up.
Compared with the 1-year prevalence in HUNT3, a higher proportion of participants in HUNT4 had tension-type headache (20.7% vs. 15.9%, p < 0.001), whereas a lower 1-year prevalence was found for migraine (11.1% vs. 12.0%, p < 0.001) and medication overuse headache (MOH) (0.3% vs. 1.0%, p < 0.001). Participants in the age group 20-39 years at baseline nearly three times increased risk (RR = 2.8, 95% CI 2.5-3.1) of reporting headache in HUNT2, HUNT3 and HUNT4 than persons aged 50 years or more. Female sex, occurrence of chronic musculoskeletal complaints and high score of depression or anxiety at baseline doubled the risk of having headache in all three surveys.
The 1-year prevalence of migraine and MOH was lower in HUNT4 than in HUNT3. Young age, female sex, and occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints and high score of anxiety and/or depression were all associated with substantially increased risk of reporting headache in all three surveys.