Primary headache disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean: A meta-analysis of population-based studies

Kevin Pacheco-Barrios*, Victor Velasquez-Rimachi, Alba Navarro-Flores, Andrely Huerta-Rosario, Cristian Morán-Mariños, Roberto A. Molina, Chandel Farroñay-García, Tatiana Metcalf, Felipe Fregni, Carlos Alva-Díaz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: In this manuscript, we aim to systematically estimate the pooled prevalence and incidence of primary headaches and its subtypes (migraine, tension-type headache, and chronic headaches) in Latin America and the Caribbean, describing its epidemiological profile and associated factors. Methods: We systematically searched PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, and LILACS (From conception to March 2021), for populational studies reporting the epidemiology of primary headaches and their associated factors in Latin America and the Caribbean. The data extraction was conducted independently. We performed random-effect model meta-analysis of prevalence (overall primary headaches and by subtypes) and associated factors, assessed potential sources of heterogeneity, the risk of bias, publication bias, and the evidence certainty (GRADE methodology). Results: We included 32 populational studies (38 subpopulations, n = 63,813). The prevalence of primary headaches was 41.4% (95% CI 31.1–52.2%; n = 54,357), 15% for migraine (95% CI 12.0–18.3; n = 53,658 individuals), 20.6% for tension-type headache (95% CI 12.4–30.2; n = 25,840), and 6% for chronic headaches (95% CI 3.3–9.6; n = 21,720), with high between-study heterogeneity. No incidence data was found. Female sex, white ethnicity, high BMI, comorbid mental health disorders, and low-back pain were associated with higher prevalence of primary headaches. The prevalence was less in rural areas. Conclusion: In Latin America and the Caribbean, primary headaches are highly prevalent affecting young females disproportionally. The prevalence of chronic headaches is higher than in other systematic global and regional estimations. The presence of comorbidities as modifiable risk factors should encourage their integration as targets for community-based preventive and therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Prevalence
  • headache
  • incidence
  • meta-analysis
  • migraine
  • systematic review


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