Smartphone use and primary headache: A cross-sectional hospital-based study


To determine the association of smartphone use with occurrence of new-onset headache and/or increased severity of headaches in patients with primary headache.


In a cross-sectional study between June 2017 and December 2018, patients with primary headache were divided into 2 groups: smartphone users (SUs) and non-smartphone users (NSUs). A questionnaire was administered for headache characteristics and treatment taken. The primary objective was to determine the association of smartphone use with new-onset headache or increase severity. The secondary objective was to determine any differences in the requirement of acute medication and prophylaxis.


Four hundred patients were included in the study, of which 194 were NSUs and 206 were SUs. The NSUs were older with lower education and socioeconomic status. The headache characteristics were similar in both the groups, except for higher occurrence of aura (NSUs: 15 [7.7%] vs SUs: 36 [17.5%]; p = 0.003) in the SU group. There was, however, higher proportion of patients taking analgesics (NSUs: 157 [80.9%] vs SUs: 197 [95.6%]; p < 0.001), with less relief in headache with medication in the SU group. This was driven by increased pill count (low SUs: 5.0 [3.0; 10.0] vs high SUs: 10.0 [5.0; 15.0]; p = 0.007) and poor response to medication in the high SU group.


The use of smartphone was associated with increase in requirement of acute medication and less relief with acute medication. Longitudinal studies may be required to confirm these findings.

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