How well do headache patients remember? A comparison of self-report measures of headache frequency and severity in patients with migraine

Jeff A. McKenzie, F. Michael Cutrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Objective. - To compare patient recall of migraine headache frequency and severity over 4 weeks prior to a return visit as reported in an interval questionnaire vs a daily diary. Background. - Many therapeutic decisions in the management of migraine patients are based on patient recall of response to treatment. As consistent completion of a daily headache diary is problematic, we have assessed the reliability of patient recall in a 1-time questionnaire. Methods. - Headache frequency and average severity (0 to 3-point scale) were reported in an interval questionnaire by 209 patients who had also maintained a daily diary over the same 4-week period. Results. - Headache frequency over the previous 4 weeks as reported in interval questionnaires (14.7) was not different from that documented in diaries (15.1), P =.056. However, reported average headache severity on a 0 to 3 scale as reported in the questionnaire (1.84) was worse than that documented in the diaries (1.63), P <.001. Conclusions. - In the management of individual patients, the daily diary is still preferable when available. Aggregate assessment of headache frequency in groups of patients based on recall of the prior 4 weeks is equally as reliable as a diary. Headache severity reported in questionnaires tends to be greater than that documented in daily diaries and may be less reliable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-672
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2009



  • Diary
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Questionnaire
  • Self-report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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