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Illuminating an Invisible Illness with Headache Impact Test Score Interpretation

Headaches and migraines do more than just hurt your head. They can severely impair patients’ ability to work and live in peace. For example, 23% of people with chronic migraines decrease their work hours, and 78% report that headaches adversely affect their children’s activities.1 As one of the most prevalent and disabling conditions worldwide, there’s no room to normalize these conditions or accept associated stigmas in the process.2 Migraines and headaches are neurological illnesses—studies and treatments should be aligned with their severity.

What Is a Headache Impact Test?

The Headache Impact Test (HIT-6) from QualityMetric is a patient-reported outcome (PRO) tool used to capture the impact of headaches and headache treatments on functional health and well-being. HIT-6 scores address six main domains affected by headaches:

  • Pain
  • Social Functioning
  • Role Functioning
  • Cognitive Functioning
  • Vitality
  • Psychological Stress

Image courtesy of Luna: – The data for this study was collected and insights generated using the Luna Platform of LunaPBC, Inc. Copyright © 2022.


Image courtesy of Luna: – The data for this study was collected and insights generated using the Luna Platform of LunaPBC, Inc. Copyright © 2022.

What Does a Headache Impact Test Reveal?

The HIT-6 is extremely useful for screening and monitoring how headaches affect patients in their day-to-day lives. The means and standard deviations of HIT-6 scores help discriminate headache impact across chronic migraines (CM) and episodic migraines (EM) as well as non-migraine headaches. HIT-6 scores uncover pain levels, functional limitations, general tiredness and irritation and mood swings.

The table below shows the correlation between severity and non-migraine, EM and CM patients.

Healthcare professionals employing the HIT-6 can more easily monitor the everyday effects of headaches, identify appropriate care measures, track the trajectory of headache impact and determine the effectiveness of various headache treatments. They become equipped to better understand each individual, making personal and data-driven treatment decisions that have the potential to improve patient conditions.

The impact of migraine headaches cause significant emotional burden, increased fatigue, disruption in cognitive functioning and disability in performing daily role activities. Mark Kosinski, Chief Commercial Science Officer at QualityMetric, says this suggests that “either individuals are not benefitting from their current migraine therapy and need a change in the approach to treating their migraine or these individuals are not adhering properly to their current therapy.”

Data from the headache impact test is particularly vital for patients who have been underdiagnosed and undertreated for debilitating headaches in the past. Real-life patient stories are transformed into functional datasets for researchers and scientists to involve in systematic review and critical analysis to support research, non-pharmacological interventions and other treatments for migraines.

HIT-6 by the Numbers:

  • Completion time: 1-2 minutes
  • Administered to: Adults aged 18 and older with frequent headaches
  • Recall period: 4-week
  • Translations: 172

Request a HIT-6 Survey License

To make the most of these headache impact tests, consider working with QualityMetric to screen for migraines, determine the severity of headache points and make norm-based interpretations. QualityMetric offers all survey licensees standardized scoring services and technologies as well as translation and interpretation guidance for the future of migraine diagnosis and management.

Request a license for the Headache Impact Test (HIT) to learn more about meaningful scoring and survey applications for patients with tension headaches and migraines in your research or clinical practice.


  1. How Does Chronic Migraine Affect Everyday Life? Psychiatry & Neurology Resource Center
  2. The Global Prevalence of Headache: An Update, with Analysis of the Influences of Methodological Factors on Prevalence Estimates, The Journal of Headache and Pain
  3. Early Results of Migraine and Severe Headache Study Reveal Insights, Luna