Additional Thoughts About Racial Differences in the Prevalence of Headaches in US Adolescents


Rhee, H. (2001). Additional Thoughts About Racial Differences in the Prevalence of Headaches in US Adolescents. Headache. vol. 41 (4) pp. 419-420


I would like to dedicate additional comments to racial differences in terms of the prevalence of headaches in US adolescents that I presented in the July/August issue of Headache.1 In that article, I reported that American Indian adolescents as a group experience the highest rate of recurrent headaches occurring weekly or more often, followed by whites, blacks, and Asians. In reaching such a conclusion, I used the measure of racial identity from the reports by the interviewers; this should have been clarified in the article.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) data used for my article contains multiple measures of each adolescent's racial identity. That is, the measure of racial identity comes not only from interviewers' observations (external racial identity) but also from participating adolescents' self-reports (expressed racial identity). As such, it provides a unique opportunity to examine whether the reported differences in the prevalence based on external racial identity conforms to those based on expressed racial identity. Therefore, I conducted complementary descriptive analysis to reexamine the prevalence of headaches using expressed racial identity, to compare these estimations with those of the previous reports using external racial identity, and to reveal the prevalence of headaches among Hispanic youth who were not mentioned in the previous report.

The racial groups examined in this report included whites, blacks, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian/Pacific Islanders according to adolescents' self-reports. The correlation between external and expressed racial identity in this sample was .65 (P< .001) after excluding Hispanics who had not been taken into account in my previous report. As in the previous report, significant differences were found among the racial groups (χ2 = 47, df = 4, P<.001) in terms of the incidence rate of headaches. Interestingly, however, the pattern of the prevalence of recurrent headaches among the groups was somewhat different from that of my previous report, as the Figure 1 illustrates.



American Indian

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Journal Article

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Rhee, H.

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