Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type



Health Sciences

First Advisor

Kelly Parsely

Second Advisor

Willis Weight

Third Advisor

Jennifer Lowell


Migraine headaches have a significant impact on many college and university students. College students are younger and often healthier than older adults, but sometimes lead stressful lifestyles that may contribute to an increased risk of headaches. A cross-sectional survey was administered at Carroll College in Helena, MT, USA during the fall semester of 2012, to determine overall migraine prevalence, as well as prevalence in students sleeping less than 6 hours per night, reporting high levels of stress, and viewing electronic screens more than 10 hours per day. Among the 1,508 enrolled students at time of study, 546 surveys were administered and returned. Migraine headache prevalence among Carroll students was estimated at 50.2% compared to an average of 22-25% estimated in other college populations. Migraine prevalence was 1.31 times higher among students who slept less than 6 hours each night and 1.16 times greater among students reporting constant and/or high levels of stress. Prevalence was the same among students with varying hours of exposure to electronic screens. The research suggested sleep education and stress relief methods for matriculating freshmen may be beneficial for reducing rates of migraines among students. Further research is needed before statistical associations between migraines and risk factors like sleep deprivation, stress, or use of electronics can be drawn. Furthermore, effects of migraines on ADLs like performing personal hygiene practices, ambulation, and housework should be further evaluated. Data concerning migraines from similar private institutions in Montana would allow for comparisons between undergraduate students of colleges within the region.