The Journal of Headache and Pain
2021 Apr 1;22(1):19.   doi: 10.1186/s10194-021-01233-7.

Peter J Goadsby  Michel Lantéri-Minet  Martin C Michel  Mario Peres  Mamoru Shibata  Andreas Straube  Tissa Wijeratne  Caty Ebel-Bitoun  Luminita Constantin  Simon Hitier 


Background: With headache experienced by up to 75% of adults worldwide in the last year, primary headache disorders constitute a major public health problem, yet they remain under-diagnosed and under-treated. Headache prevalence and burden is changing as society evolves, with headache now occurring earlier in life. Contributing factors, mostly associated with changing life style, such as stress, bad posture, physical inactivity, sleep disturbance, poor diet and excess use of digital technology may be associated with the phenomenon that could be labelled as ’21st century headache’. This is especially notable in workplace and learning environments where headache impacts mental clarity and therefore cognitive performance. The headache-related impact on productivity and absenteeism negatively influences an individual’s behaviour and quality of life, and is also associated with a high economic cost. Since the majority of sufferers opt to self-treat rather than seek medical advice, substantial knowledge on headache prevalence, causation and burden is unknown globally. Mapping the entire population of headache sufferers can close this knowledge gap, leading to better headache management. The broad use of digital technology to gather real world data on headache triggers, burden and management strategies, in self-treated population will allow these sufferers to access appropriate support and medication, and therefore improve quality of life.

Conclusion: These data can yield important insights into a substantial global healthcare issue and form the basis for improved patient awareness, professional education, clinical study design and drug development.

Keywords: 21st century headache; Cognitive functioning; Infodemiology; Over-the-counter medication; Real world evidence; Triggers.

21st century headache: mapping new territory

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