Service use and costs for people with headache: a UK primary care study

Paul McCrone, Paul T. Seed, Andrew J. Dowson, Lucy V. Clark, Laura H. Goldstein, Myfanwy Morgan, Leone Ridsdale

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This paper aims to estimate the service and social costs of headache presenting in primary care and to identify predictors of headache costs. Patients were recruited from GP practices in England and service use and lost employment recorded. Predictors of cost were identified using regression models. Service and social costs were available on 288 and 282 patients, respectively. Average service costs over 3 months were £117 whilst total costs (including lost production) were £582. Patients referred to neurologists had service costs that were £82 higher than those not referred (90% CI £36–£128). Costs including lost employment were higher by £150, but this was not significant (90% CI -£139–£439). The annual mean service and social costs, weighted to represent population rates of referral, were £468 and £2328, respectively. Higher costs were significantly related to pain. Age was linked to higher service costs and lower social costs. The figures extrapolated to the whole of the UK suggest £956 million due to service use and £4.8 billion including lost employment. These are likely to be underestimates because many people experiencing headaches do not consult their GP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number362
Pages (from-to)617–623
JournalThe Journal of Headache and Pain
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2011


  • Economics
  • Costs analysis
  • Primary care
  • Headache

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