Cluster headache (CH), a severe primary headache, is often misdiagnosed and mismanaged. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a screening tool to aid the diagnosis of CH. We developed a novel 12-item screening tool. This was comprised of four components: (1) images depicting headache pain; (2) pain descriptors; (3) key questions that could differentiate between CH and migraine; and (4) a visual analogue pain scale. The total possible questionnaire score ranged from 3-32. Patients with CH and migraines (control group) were recruited prospectively from a headache centre in the North of England, UK. Two-hundred and ninety-six patients were included in the study: 81 CH patients, 36 of which suffer with episodic CH and 45 with chronic CH; 215 migraine patients, 92 of which suffer with episodic migraine and 123 with chronic migraine. The mean questionnaire score was higher in CH patients versus migraine patients (28.4 versus 19.5). At a cut-off score of >25 out of 32, the screening tool had a sensitivity of 86.4% and a specificity of 92.0% in differentiating between CH and migraine. The screening tool could be a useful instrument to aid the diagnosis of a CH. The images depicting headache pain do not clearly discriminate between CH and migraine.
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