The cost of headache disorders in Europe: the Eurolight project.
- Epidemiology and Public Health Scientific Team
- Competence Center for Methodology and Statistics
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Headache disorders are very common, but their monetary costs in Europe are unknown. We performed the first comprehensive estimation of how economic resources are lost to headache in Europe. METHODS: From November 2008 to August 2009, a cross-sectional survey was conducted in eight countries representing 55% of the adult EU population. Participation rates varied between 11% and 59%. In total, 8412 questionnaires contributed to this analysis. Using bottom-up methodology, we estimated direct (medications, outpatient health care, hospitalization and investigations) and indirect (work absenteeism and reduced productivity at work) annual per-person costs. Prevalence data, simultaneously collected and, for migraine, also derived from a systematic review, were used to impute national costs. RESULTS: Mean per-person annual costs were euro1222 for migraine (95% CI 1055-1389; indirect costs 93%), euro303 for tension-type headache (TTH, 95% CI 230-376; indirect costs 92%), euro3561 for medication-overuse headache (MOH, 95% CI 2487-4635; indirect costs 92%), and euro253 for other headaches (95% CI 99-407; indirect costs 82%). In the EU, the total annual cost of headache amongst adults aged 18-65 years was calculated, according to our prevalence estimates, at euro173 billion, apportioned to migraine (euro111 billion; 64%), TTH (euro21 billion; 12%), MOH (euro37 billion; 21%) and other headaches (euro3 billion; 2%). Using the 15% systematic review prevalence of migraine, calculated costs were somewhat lower (migraine euro50 billion, all headache euro112 billion annually). CONCLUSIONS: Headache disorders are prominent health-related drivers of immense economic losses for the EU. This has immediate implications for healthcare policy. Health care for headache can be both improved and cost saving.