Germany's young academics are having a lot of headaches. Around 1.8 of the 2.8 million students in Germany suffer from this. Almost one in three of them is severely affected by headaches. This is the highest level of severity according to the MIDAS score for measuring headache-related disability. If you include those with moderate disabilities, you get around 900,000 students whose everyday life is significantly restricted by headaches. As a result, an affected person loses an average of 2.4 working days at the university every month. For students with migraines it is even 2.7 working days. This emerges from a representative scientific survey for the 'HeadHigh' pilot project, which was presented today in Berlin.

Partnership-based cooperation

The pilot project is intended to help students and university employees effectively and sustainably prevent headaches. 'kopfHoch' was developed by ZIES gGmbH (Frankfurt aM) in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Hartmut Göbel from the Kiel Pain Clinic as a medical mentor and BARMER as a cooperating health insurance company. So far, the Technical University of Dresden, the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Kiel University of Applied Sciences have been won as partner universities. “For us, the 'HeadHigh' project is an example of how the partnership between universities, medicine and health insurance can counteract specific health problems. The fact that around 75 percent of female students and almost 56 percent of male students suffer from headaches underlines the urgent need for action,” said Prof. Dr. Christoph Straub, CEO of BARMER.

 Painkillers without medical advice

Overall, around two thirds of students in Germany suffer from headaches: 61.8 percent from migraines, 35.2 percent from tension-type headaches and three percent from so-called medication overuse headaches. But just 25.7 percent know their headache type. “Preventing headaches begins with understanding the disease and its diverse manifestations; this is exactly where the 'HeadHigh' project comes in,” explains Prof. Hartmut Göbel from the Kiel Pain Clinic. A symptomatic of the lack of awareness of the problem is also an unreflective use of headache medication: of those who combat their suffering with painkillers, over 90 percent do so without a doctor's prescription.

Prevention campaign imparts knowledge

The heart of the project is the innovative prevention campaign “Headache Hurts”, which aims to raise students’ awareness of the topic. According to the principle of knowledge – understanding – action, basic medical knowledge as well as the most important do's and don'ts of headache prevention are conveyed. In addition to a compact information brochure, there is a website with further and in-depth content, a six-minute film and an app certified as a medical product. The materials are characterized by a contemporary, striking imagery that is intended to ensure the campaign receives widespread attention.

Close cooperation with the universities

“Universities train the managers of tomorrow. “Our pilot project offers the opportunity to anchor the topic of headache prevention in the minds of the young generation and to significantly reduce headache-related loss of work during studies and later working life,” explains Karin Frisch from ZIES gGmbH, explaining the goal of the campaign. Close cooperation with the partner universities is particularly important to the initiators. A continuous exchange is maintained in representative expert panels and we discuss together how the program can be adapted to the specific needs of the respective university.

In addition to the prevention program for students, there is also a program for university employees.

More information: http://www.headache-hurts.de

German Doctors' Journal: https://www.aerzteblatt.de/nachrichten/98903/Neues-Informationsangebot-soll-cephalopathy-bei-studierenden-vorgehen