, Volume 12, Issue 8, pp 953-961

A study of the feasibility of Internet administration of a computerized health survey: The headache impact test (HIT™)

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Background: Headache impact test (HIT™) is a precise, practical tool that quantifies the impact of headache on respondents' lives. It is the first widely-available dynamic health assessment (DynHA™). Applications of this brief, precise survey include population based screening for disabling headaches, tracking of individual patient scores over time, disease management programs and others. We use data from Internet HIT assessments during the fall of 2000 to (1) evaluate characteristics of respondents and assessments, (2) assess the utility of joint administration of HIT and the SF-8™ Health Survey (SF-8™) to screen for migraine and depression, and (3) explore associations between HIT scores and subsequent healthcare-related attitudes and behaviors. Methods: We analyzed Internet HIT surveys completed between 9/1 and 11/30/2000 (n = 19,195). Subsamples include respondents who also completed (1) a 12-item Internet survey assessing severity, frequency, cause and management of headaches; (2) an e-mail survey measuring healthcare-related behaviors; (3) the SF-8; or (4) the website registration process, providing age and gender data. We used analysis of variance (ANOVA) to evaluate HIT score differences associated with age, gender, headache severity or frequency, and healthcare-related behaviors and attitudes and χ2 tests to assess the prevalence and comorbidity of migraine and depression. Results: Three-quarters of respondents achieved a precise HIT score in ≤5 items. Most had moderate/severe headaches; 65% had headaches at least monthly. HIT scores were directly related to headache severity and frequency. Most respondents were females, with significantly higher HIT scores than males. Most HIT respondents were between ages 25 and 54 (HIT scores were higher for younger respondents). Sixty four percent screened positive for migraine; 20% for depression. Both conditions were more prevalent among females than males. Comorbid migraine and depression was 50% more prevalent among females and increased with age until age 50. Patients with worse headache impact were more likely to seek care, discuss headaches with their providers and find HIT useful. Conclusions: It is feasible to use Internet-based dynamic assessments to measure health status. These data complement previous results showing that HIT differentiates respondents according to headache characteristics (severity and frequency). HIT plus SF-8 yields a practical screen for migraine and depression in headache patients and may lead to more effective treatment for patients with these conditions. Preliminary findings suggest that the experience of taking HIT on the Internet may motivate headache patients to seek care and discuss headaches with their providers.