European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 153–160 | Cite as

Tension-type Headache in Adolescents and Adults: A Population Based Study of 33,764 Twins

  • Michael Bjørn Russell
  • Niels Levi
  • Jūratė Šaltytė-Benth
  • Kirsten Fenger
Neurological Diseases


The aim of this study was to evaluate the 1-year-period prevalence of tension-type headache in a large population based sample. The study population included 33,764 twins aged 12–41 years old from the population based new Danish Twin Registry. They received a posted headache questionnaire and the response rate was 83.5%. The self-reported 1-year-period prevalence of tension-type headache was 86.0%; 78.9% among men and 92.5% among women. The 1-year-period prevalence of infrequent episodic, frequent episodic and chronic tension-type headache was 63.5, 21.6 and 0.9%, respectively. Frequent episodic and chronic tension-type headache was significantly more frequent in women than men. The prevalence of frequent episodic tension-type headache increased slightly in men until age 39 then it declined, while it increased about 20% point in women from age 12 years to age 20–39 years old and then it declined. Congruently, the prevalence of chronic tension-type headache increased until age 39 and declined thereafter in both sexes. Chronic tension-type headache is rare in persons 12–14 years old. These effects were confirmed by age trends of the different subtypes of tension-type headache using a regression model. The prevalence of migraine varied from 7.0 to 16.8% in men and from 8.2 to 31.0% in women. It increased from age 12 to 34 years and then declined. The risk and frequency of tension-type headache was significantly higher in those with migraine than those who had never had migraine. Future large longitudinal follow-up studies are required.

Key words

Age and gender Epidemiology Migraine Prevalence Tension-type headache 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Bjørn Russell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 7
  • Niels Levi
    • 1
  • Jūratė Šaltytė-Benth
    • 2
    • 5
  • Kirsten Fenger
    • 6
  1. 1.Head and Neck Research GroupAkershus University HospitalNordbyhagenNorway
  2. 2.Faculty Division Akershus University HospitalUniversity of OsloNordbyhagenNorway
  3. 3.Department of Research and DevelopmentAkershus University HospitalLørenskogNorway
  4. 4.Department of NeurologyAkershus University HospitalLørenskogNorway
  5. 5.Helse Øst Health Services Research CentreAkershus University HospitalLørenskogNorway
  6. 6.Institute of Medical Biochemistry and GeneticsUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  7. 7.Head and Neck Research GroupAkershus University HospitalNordbyhagenNorway

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