On 13 October at 14:00 Kati Braschinsky will defend her doctoral thesis “Epidemiology of primary headaches in Estonia and applicability of web-based solutions in headache epidemiology research”.
Mark Braschinsky, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tartu
Professor Erling Andreas Tronvik, University of Science and Technology (Norway)
Primary headaches are a group of heterogenous disorders that consist of migraine, tension-type headache, trigeminal autonomic cephalagias and other primary headaches. These disorders cause considerable loss of quality of life and have a remarkable socioeconomic impact. The mean 1-year prevalence of all headaches in Europe is 53%, of migraine 14.7% and of tension-type headache 62.6%. The prevalence of primary headaches in Estonia has not been studied before.
Traditional epidemiological studies are resource- and time-consuming. However, wide usage of internet in the population creates a possibility for applying web-based methods in headache epidemiological research that can be more resource-saving.
The aim of this study was to compile and test a headache diagnostic questionnaire, to determine the 1-year prevalence of primary headaches among 20-64 year olds in Estonia and to evaluate the applicability of web-based surveys in epidemiological studies of primary headaches.
The results show that the 1-year prevalences of primary headaches in Estonia are similar to other European countries, except for tension-type headache. The low prevalence of tension-type headache in this study is most probably an underestimation. This implies that primary headaches in Estonia are an important cause of morbidity as well as a prominent socioeconomic burden. It can be concluded, that online headache research may be a time- and resource efficient alternative in IT-developed countries. In addition to obtaining larger study samples in relatively short time periods, the IT solutions can provide participant identification methods that avoid data contamination and are able to distinguish most primary headache disorders sufficiently. However, further research is needed to find more reliable methods of online access and engagement to gain representative samples and overcome the pitfalls of bias and most probably underestimation of headache prevalence in web-based epidemiological research.