70% of headaches are undiagnosed

GPs are finding it difficult to diagnose headaches properly, according to UK research.

A study of over 91,000 patients in the General Practice Research Database has shown that 70 per cent of people presenting with a headache do not receive a formal diagnosis.

Of those who received a diagnosis, 24 per cent had primary headache and 6 per cent secondary headache.

Lead researcher Dr David Kernick, chairman of the British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH), blamed a lack of proper training in medical school and the absence of a diagnostic test for headaches.

'Headaches are not well addressed in primary or secondary care,' he said.

'Taking time to listen to patients and take their problems seriously is important.'

Presentation of headache is common in primary care and accounts for 4.4 per cent of consultations.

However, few patients receive a diagnosis that fits the BASH evidence-based guidelines according the BJGP research.

BJGP 2008; 58: 102-4, find links to the research at http://www.healthcarerepublic.com

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