Headache associated disability in medical students at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi

  • E. O. Amayo
  • J. O. Jowi
  • E. K. Njeru


Objective: To study headache associated disability in a group of medical students at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
Study design: Cross sectional survey.
Results: Between October 1994 and January 1995 we conducted a survey on headache characteristics on medical students at both the Kenya Medical Training Centre and the Medical School of the University of Nairobi. Six hundred and twenty-five (87%) of the 711 students surveyed admitted having had at least one episode of headache in the last six months. Using the International headache society (IHS) case criteria 314 students (50%) had tension type headache, 240 (38%) migraine headache and 71 (12%) unclassified headache. Eighty-six percent of the students with headache had their working ability disturbed to various degrees. Eighty-five percent of the students reported that their social activities were interfered with by headache. Migraine headaches had the greatest impact on both the working and social activities at a p-value of 0.0005 and 0.0004 respectively. One hundred and forty-one students (23.6%) had missed at least one day of work or school in the last one-year as a direct result of the headache. There was an association between headache severity with working ability and social effect. There was no association between the days students missed work or classes with the severity of the headache. No gender difference was found in the headache associated disability.
Conclusion: Headache is a prevalent condition with disability both in working and social activities.

(East African Medical Journal: 2002 79(10): 519-523)

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