New survey reveals concerns about impact of migraine on work productivity

October 11, 2017, Research!America
Credit: Sasha Wolff/Wikipedia

A significant percentage of migraine sufferers as well as those without the disease are concerned that migraine affects work productivity, quality of life, family/relationships and employment, according to a new national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America. Respondents also say the condition is likely to have a long-term and substantial effect on sufferers' ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Employers should make reasonable workplace accommodations for , according to respondents—76% of suffers and 58% of non-sufferers agree. One study has found that a worksite migraine education program has the potential to significantly impact lost productivity and absenteeism for sufferers. Almost half (45%) of migraine sufferers and nearly one-in-five non-sufferers say they know someone with the condition who has left the workforce or reduced their work hours due to the progression of their disease. Significant majorities of all respondents agree that insurers should cover prevention or alternative migraine treatments - 79% of migraine sufferers and 64% of non-sufferers.

Not surprisingly, given their personal familiarity with the disease, more than half of migraine sufferers (53%) say individuals with migraine are stigmatized because of their condition, compared to less than one-third (31%) of non-sufferers. The most common social stigma associated with individuals with migraine reflects lack of awareness of the seriousness of the condition. Both those who suffer from migraines and those who do not link stigma to 'overreaction' (just a headache) and that it is not a 'real' disease. Stigma also stems from the belief that sufferers are lazy, or fail to manage the condition and refuse to work, according to many respondents.

"The survey findings indicate that the health and economic impact of migraine is broad and must be addressed in order to overcome stigma and aid those suffering from this disabling condition," said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. "More research is necessary to understand the biological and environmental factors associated with migraine in order to reduce the prevalence of this disease." A majority of both those who suffer from migraines, and those who do not, say it is important that our nation supports research that focuses on the prevention and treatment of migraine - 77% of sufferers and 68% of non-sufferers.

About 12% of the U.S. population experience migraines, with women three times more likely to have the condition than men. Respondents who suffer themselves are more aware of this gender difference than those who do not—migraine sufferers (66%), non-sufferers (48%). More than half of migraine sufferers (52%) say veterans are disproportionately affected by the disease, compared to 32% of non-sufferers. In one study of approximately 3,600 U.S. soldiers screened within 90 days of returning from a one-year combat tour in Iraq, soldiers were shown to have two-to-four times the incidence rate of migraine as compared to the general population.

There is general agreement that migraine sufferers are at risk of overusing medications - 61% of migraine sufferers and 49% of non-sufferers agree. When asked if migraine sufferers have access to effective treatments, two thirds (66%) of migraine sufferers agreed compared to less than half (47%) of non-sufferers. Nearly 40% of non-sufferers say they are not sure compared to a much lower 17% of those who suffer from the disease.

More migraine sufferers (70%) than non-sufferers (53%) agree that the condition is a disability. Migraine headaches are covered under the American Disability Act which defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Over 20% of chronic migraine sufferers are disabled, and the likelihood of disability increases sharply with the number of comorbid conditions. Allergies, anxiety and depression are often other health associated with migraine sufferers, according to those with the condition (81%) and non-sufferers (58%).

A majority of migraine suffers and non-sufferers alike say they would be likely to have an examination for the condition if suggested by a primary care provider; similarly, they would seek an examination if recommended by family members or a pharmacist. Of those who suffer from migraine, 43% say they are seeking or have received treatment from a health care provider for chronic migraine, followed by cluster migraine (37%) and episodic migraine (29%).

Among other findings:

  • Migraine sufferers (85%) and non-sufferers (61%) agree that exposure to excessive light is associated with greater risk of migraine. This is consistent with scientific evidence that people with migraine tend to have recurring attacks triggered by a number of different factors, including stress, anxiety, hormonal changes, bright or flashing lights, lack of food or sleep, and dietary substances. Sudden changes in weather or environment also increases the risk of migraine.
  • Half of migraine sufferers (50%) and plurality of non-sufferers (38%) say migraines are most likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and stress. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders cites evidence that migraines are genetic, with most migraine suffers having a family history of the disorder.
  • When asked if migraine tracking tools such as apps and online diaries can be helpful in managing the condition, 74% of migraine sufferers agreed compared to 48% of non-sufferers.

The nationwide survey of 1,003 U.S. adults was conducted by Zogby Analytics for Research!America in September 2017. The margin of error ranges from +/- 3.1 to +/- 6.3 percentage points. To view survey results click here.

Explore further: Migraine with aura – but not without – increases risk of stroke

Related Stories

Migraine with aura – but not without – increases risk of stroke

September 27, 2017
Only people with migraine with aura have a higher risk of stroke, shows a twin study with 12-year follow-up, from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal Brain. The study also found that the risk is lower than previously ...

Chronic migraine cases are amplified by jawbone disorder, according to research

September 25, 2017
In a new study, researchers at the University of São Paulo's Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine (FMRP-USP) in Brazil find that a higher frequency of migraine attacks correlates with more severe temporomandibular disorder, ...

IHC: stigma towards migraine sufferers high

June 27, 2013
(HealthDay)—Individuals with migraine experience as much stigma as individuals with epilepsy and panic disorder, which are also episodic, according to a study presented at the 2013 International Headache Congress, held ...

New hope for migraine sufferers: Female gene link identified

June 4, 2012
New hope has arrived for migraine sufferers following a Griffith University study with the people of Norfolk Island.

Migraines no headache for much longer

September 17, 2013
Australian migraine sufferers won't have to live in the dark much longer.

Migraine as a risk marker for stroke and heart attack

June 14, 2016
Women who suffer from migraine headaches have a slightly increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease in later life. A team of researchers led by Prof. Tobias Kurth, Head of the Institute of Public Health (IPH) at ...

Recommended for you

Deadly Rift Valley fever: New insight, and hope for the future

July 19, 2018
Health control measures alone could be ineffective in the long term fight against the deadly Rift Valley fever which affects both humans and animals, a new study in the journal PNAS reports.

Yeast species used in food industry causes disease in humans

July 19, 2018
A major cause of drug-resistant clinical yeast infections is the same species previously regarded as non-pathogenic and commonly used in the biotechnology and food industries. The study, published on July 19th in the open-access ...

New guidelines to diagnose, manage rare endocrine disorders

July 19, 2018
International guidelines have been published for the first time to help doctors around the globe diagnose and manage patients with a very rare set of endocrine diseases known as pseudohypoparathyroidism and its related disorders, ...

Overuse of antibiotics not what the doctor ordered

July 19, 2018
With increased use of antibiotics worldwide linked to growing antibiotic resistance, a world-first study co-authored by a QUT researcher has highlighted the growing impact of non-prescription supply of antibiotics in community ...

Alcohol-related cirrhosis deaths skyrocket in young adults

July 18, 2018
Deaths from cirrhosis rose in all but one state between 1999-2016, with increases seen most often among young adults, a new study shows.

Childhood abuse linked to greater risk of endometriosis, study finds

July 17, 2018
Endometriosis, a painful condition that affects one in 10 reproductive-age women in the U.S., has been linked to childhood physical and sexual abuse, according to findings published today in the journal Human Reproduction.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.