Primary headache: smartphone users take more analgesics

  • Neurol Clin Pract
  • 04/03/2020

  • Susan London
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Compared with primary headache sufferers who do not use smartphones, smartphone users more commonly take analgesics for acute treatment and obtain less pain relief from them.

Why this matters

  • Smartphone use may be a modifiable risk factor in this population.
  • Editorial offers skepticism about getting patients to curb cell phone use and calls for research into other solutions.  

Key results

  • Smartphone users and nonusers were similar for:
    • Headache duration, type;
    • Pain location, severity;
    • Monthly frequency, duration of episodes;
    • New-onset headache; and
    • Worsening over time.
  • But smartphone users had:
    • Younger age at headache onset (mean, 25.95 vs 30.75 years; P<.001>
    • Higher prevalence of aura (17.5% vs 7.7%; P=.003).
  • Smartphone users:
    • More often took analgesics for acute attack (95.6% vs 80.9%; P<.001>
    • Took more pills monthly (8.0 vs 5.0; P<.001>
    • Obtained less headache relief (P<.001>
  • High vs low users:
    • Took more pills monthly (10.0 vs 5.0; P=.007) and
    • Experienced less headache relief (P=.03).

Study design

  • Indian hospital-based cross-sectional cohort study of patients age ≥14 years with primary headache:
    • 206 smartphone users and
    • 194 nonusers.
  • High use: score ≥1 on 11-point smartphone addiction questionnaire.
  • Main outcomes: analgesic use, pain relief.
  • Funding: None.

Limitations

  • Causality, generalizability unknown.
  • Based on self-report, single time point.
  • No specifics on smartphone use patterns.