Quality of life differs among headache diagnoses: Analysis of SF-36 survey in 901 headache patients

Shuu Jiun Wang*, Jong Ling Fuh, Shiang Ru Lu, Kai Dih Juang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


This paper presents the results of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in 901 patients consecutively visiting a headache clinic of a national medical center in Taipei, Taiwan. HRQoL was evaluated with the Medical Outcome Study-Short Form (SF-36) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). According to the classification criteria for chronic daily headache (CDH) proposed by Silberstein et al. (Neurology 47 (1996) 871) five hundred and ninety-three (66%) patients had CDH, of whom transformed migraine (TM) was diagnosed in 310, and chronic tension-type headache (CTTH) in 231. One hundred and ninety-three patients had episodic migraine. All SF-36 scale scores significantly correlated with the HADS scores and the intensity and frequency of pain. Compared with the normative data, a pervasive multi-dimensional decline of the SF-36 scores was noted among the headache patients except for the physical functioning scale. The decline was most remarkable in the role limitations of physical and emotional dimensions and in the bodily pain. An increasing impairment of the SF-36 scores was noted from migraine to CTTH to TM. After controlling for the HADS, age, gender, education, and chronic illness by multiple linear regression analyses, the patients with TM had the worst SF-36 profile; whereas, the patients with CTTH and migraine had compatible results. This study is the first to demonstrate that the SF-36 scores differ among headache diagnoses. Psychological distress, as well as the percentages of the types of patients, greatly influenced the SF-36 scores in hospital-based headache samples. Our findings also suggest that improvement in the pain profile as well as psychological well-being can predict a generalized improvement in the SF-36 scales in headache patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-292
Number of pages8
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Chronic daily headache
  • Chronic tension-type headache
  • Migraine
  • Quality of life
  • SF-36
  • Transformed migraine


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