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01.12.2014 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

The Journal of Headache and Pain 1/2014

The relationship between headache and religious attendance (the Nord-Trøndelag health study- HUNT)

The Journal of Headache and Pain > Ausgabe 1/2014
Erling Tronvik, Torgeir Sørensen, Mattias Linde, Lars Bendtsen, Ville Artto, Katarina Laurell, Mikko Kallela, John-Anker Zwart, Knut Hagen
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1129-2377-15-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

ET has received fee for work as site clinical investigator in a study initiated by GSK. LB has received payment as advisory board member of Berlin-Chemie and for lectures for Allergan. MK has received payment as advisory board member of Allergan and Genzyme and paid lectures by MSD, Bayer, Orion, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Pfizer, Menarini, Leiras, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Janssen-Cilag, Sandoz and Meda. All authors except TS have been reimbursed by Allergan the costs of travel and hotel for 2 meetings with the co-authors of this study.

Authors’ contributions

ET and KH performed the statistical analyses. All authors contributed in writing the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Religious belief can be used as a pain coping strategy. Our purpose was to evaluate the relationship between headache and religious activity using prospective data from a large population-based study.


This longitudinal cohort study used data from two consecutive surveys in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Survey (HUNT 2 and 3) performed in 1995–1997; and 2006–2008. Among the 51,383 participants aged ≥ 20 years who answered headache questions at baseline, 41,766 were eligible approximately 11 years later. Of these, 25,177 (60%) completed the question in HUNT 3 regarding religious activity. Frequent religious attendees (fRA) (used as a marker of stronger religious belief than average) were defined as those who had been to church/prayer house at least once monthly during the last six months.


In the multivariate analyses, adjusting for known potential confounders, individuals with headache 1–14 days/month in HUNT 2 were more likely to be fRA 11 years later than headache-free individuals. Migraine at baseline predisposed more strongly to fRA at follow-up (OR = 1.25; 95% CI 1.19-1.40) than did non-migrainous headache (OR = 1.13; 95% 1.04-1.23). The odds of being fRA was 48% increased (OR 1.48; 95% 1.19-1.83) among those with migraine 7–14 days/month at baseline compared to subjects without headache. In contrast, headache status at baseline did not influence the odds of being frequent visitors of concerts, cinema and/or theatre at follow-up 11 years later.


In this prospective study, headache, in particular migraine, at baseline slightly increased the odds of being fRA 11 years later.
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