Migraine Presenteeism Creates More Lost Work Time

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

"Migraine sufferers come to work or stay there while enduring extremely severe pain, thinking it's better to be at work than staying at home. But Migraine suffering in the workplace has a significant negative impact on productivity and lost time too. In other words, 'presenteeism' leads to more lost work time than absenteeism."  ~ Dr. Stephen H. Landy, lead author2


We all know we're less productive when we have a Migraine, but new research shows it may be even worse than we think. Study data has shown that employees who go to work with a Migraine or stay at work with a Migraine are less productive than if they had stayed or gone home. Two studies have recently demonstrated this particular aspect of living with Migraines.

I'll summarize at the end of this article. Here are details from the two studies:

Stewart et al study:1

Study objective: To compare the work productivity and employment status of chronic Migraine sufferers to those Migrainuers with less frequent Migraine attacks.

Study background: Chronic Migraine (CM) has been recognized as significantly more disabling than episodic Migraine (EM), but the work impact of chronic Migraine has yet to be quantified.

Study methods:

• In 2005, questionnaires were mailed to 24,000 severe headache sufferers identified from a previous US population survey.

• Data were from 11,624 respondents defined as having Migraine (by ICHD-II standards) who completed the employment questions were analyzed.

• Four groups were compared:

  • chronic Migraine (CM): Migraine with 15 or more days of headache/month, 640 participants

  • high-frequency episodic Migraine (HFEM): Migraine with 10–14 days of headache/month, 587 participants

  • moderate-frequency episodic Migraine (MFEM): Migraine with 4–9 days of headache/month, 3,715 participants

  • low-frequency episodic Migraine (LFEM): Migraine with 0–3 days of headache/month, 6,682 participants

• Lost Productive Time (LPT) was defined as the sum of missed hours plus reduced productivity hour equivalents.

• The cause of LPT was self-defined by the respondent.

• Employment status was self-reported