To examine demographic characteristics and clinical features of headache patients referred to neurologists specializing in headache in Canada.
Demographic and clinical data were collected at the time of consultation for 865 new headache patients referred to five headache-specialty clinics in Canada. The Headache Impact Test (HIT-6) and Migraine Disability Questionnaire (MIDAS) were used to measure headache impact and disability. Data were analyzed as part of the Canadian Headache Outpatient Registry and Database (CHORD) Project.
The average age of the patients was 40 years and the majority were female (78%). Most were employed either full time (49%) or part time (13%). The majority of patients were diagnosed with either migraine or tension-type headache (78%). Over a third of patients experienced headache every day, and half had experienced a headache in the previous month which was of severe intensity. Most (80%) scored in the “very severe” category of the HIT-6 and over half (55%) were severely disabled as measured by the MIDAS.
Patients referred to headache specialists in Canada are severely disabled by their headache disorders. These patients are in the most productive phase of their lives in terms of age and employment. It is important to provide the best available treatment to headache patients in order to minimize the disability and impact of their headache disorders.