The true cost of migraine on work performance, quality of life and the US healthcare system as a whole was uncovered in a recent survey conducted by Novartis, Amgen and the European Migraine and Headache Alliance. One of the most striking findings of the study was that an average of 60 percent of employed migraine sufferers reported missing 4.6 workdays – nearly a full work week – in a month.
“From being afraid to speak up about their disease at work in fear of losing their jobs, to feeling judged by colleagues, the stigma around migraine in the workplace is an ongoing issue that the migraine community faces daily,” said Mary Franklin, Executive Director of the National Headache Foundation. “The findings from the My Migraine Voice survey shed light on the true impact of migraine at work and showcase the urgent need for employers and employees to change the dialogue around migraine week – in a month due to their migraine symptoms.”
The patient survey involved over 11,000 individuals from more than 30 countries. The full findings will be presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society (AHS) in San Francisco.
It’s estimated that migraine places a $22 billion burden on the US healthcare system each year. The My Migraine Voice survey sought to learn more from those affected most by the neurological disease, namely migraine sufferers who experienced at least four migraine days each month. The study investigators report that 90 percent of US survey respondents had tried at least one preventive treatment to control their migraine symptoms.
Using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) questionnaire, the researchers studied the effect of migraine on work productivity and amount of missed work time. They reported that about 63 percent of US migraine sufferers said the headaches impaired their ability to perform their job functions.
What’s more, just 21 percent of US-based respondents reported that their employers offered support despite 80 percent of them saying that their employers were aware that they suffered from migraines. Thirty percent of those individuals who believed that migraine affected their work performance reported feeling judged by their coworkers.
“Novartis, and our partner Amgen, have committed to advancing our knowledge of migraine to end the stigma around the disease, and this survey makes it clear that we need to start in the workplace,” said Fabrice Chouraqui, US President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. “The results of the My Migraine Voice survey reinforce the immediate need for better solutions for migraine patients and employers, and we’d like to thank the patients who participated in the survey to bring these insights to light.”
The current study also found that 72 percent of US respondents reported needing to take a least one day off work in order to cope with their migraines in the last month. Overall, the findings highlight the need to improve migraine awareness in the workplace so that employers can offer support to their employees affected by these headaches.
Novartis and Amgen say that they will focus on providing outreach and education to help inform employers about migraine in order to reduce the stigma associated with the disease. Since the two pharmaceutical companies recently announced the approval of their new migraine drug Aimovig, the findings of the My Migraine Voice survey will likely be used to support a disease awareness campaign in the future.