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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Headache test online
Headaches are a major public health problem
An online headache assessment test has been shown to help patients and doctors improve the diagnosis and treatment of a common problem.

The Headache Impact Test (HIT) has been developed by US-based QualityMetric Inc and pharmaceutical firm Glaxo Wellcome.

It is an Internet-based questionnaire that measures the severity and impact of headaches.

One of the key problems is that many patients with headaches find it hard to communicate their degree of disability to doctors

Dr Andrew Dowson, King's College Hospital, London

Four studies presented at the Headache 2000 conference in London found it helped to evaluate the seriousness of the headache in more than 1000 patients and to diagnose migraines.

It can also help to track a patient's progress over time.

Dr Andrew Dowson, of King's College Hospital, London, said: "I know that many patients with headaches are not achieving the quality of life that they should expect and are suffering needlessly.

"One of the key problems is that many patients with headaches find it hard to communicate their degree of disability to doctors.

"New assessment tools of this kind should improve the situation dramatically."

The test measures how much a headache limits the sufferers ability to function as normal.

The higher the score on a series of questions, the more severe the problem.

It is estimated that almost all women and nine out of ten men will suffer a headache at some point in their lives.

Cluster and tension headaches and migraines, which afflict 120 million people in the developed world, are among the most common.

Headaches can be the primary problem or an indication of something more serious such as a tumour.

Conference chairman Dr Timothy Steiner, of Imperial College School of Medicine, London, said: "Whilst we won't find a cure for headache, we will increase ways of understanding disorders that affect so many of the world's population."

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