Measuring the Impact of Migraine When Not Experiencing an Attack

by Teri Robert, MyMigraineConnection Lead Expert

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The nausea, vomiting, heightened sensitivity to light and sound, throbbing headache and other symptoms of a Migraine attack is not be the only disruption sufferers endure. There is also be an impact of Migraine that patients experience when they are not having an attack, often termed interictal burden. Migraineurs realize this, but until now, there was no pertinent clinical data.

According to data presented at the National Headache Foundation’s Fourth Annual Headache Research Summit, the newly developed Migraine Interictal Burden Scale (MIBS) is the first tool designed to measure the interictal burden associated with Migraine.  

When used in clinical practice, the MIBS can help healthcare professionals better understand how Migraine disrupts their patients' daily activities when they are not experiencing an attack, and therefore better assess the total impact of Migraine in order to make more informed treatment decisions.

Previously, only instruments designed to measure the ictal burden of Migraine (or the pain and suffering patients experience during an attack) were available to healthcare professionals. In this study,* researchers uncovered items that measure the impact of Migraine between attacks. They developed the 16-item MIBS which measures the burden in four key areas:

  1. disruption at work and school,
  2. interference in family and social life,
  3. difficulty planning activities,
  4. emotional consequences

The researchers hypothesized that as patients may be frequently thinking about when the next Migraine attack might strike, they may limit activities not just during at attack but also between attacks.


"In addition to the pain and disability patients experience during a Migraine attack, Migraine may also affect patients' lives and the lives of their families in other ways… Patients reported feeling frustrated, guilty about missing family or work activities, and helpless because their headaches controlled their lives. We are currently tailoring the MIBS for use in clinicians' offices, to help them improve communication with patients about the impact of Migraine and to assist them in creating comprehensive treatment plans."

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