Migraine Top "Excuse" for Calling Off Work

by Teri Robert Patient Advocate

We all know how difficult it is when we can't go to work or class because we have a Migraine.

There are a number of reasons it's difficult Bosses who don't understand or like it when we call of because of a Migraine... Possible loss of income from taking a day off... Attitudes of coworkers... Feeling guilty about "not pulling our weight"... and more.

In a poll of 2,105 workers in Great Britain, 15% of workers who admitted to faking an illness to get a day off used a Migraine as their excuse. The poll was part of research conducted by GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Imitrex. In the UK, Imitrex is available in an over-the-counter dosage named Imigran Recovery.

This research also showed that people faking Migraines to get off work is a concern to real Migraineurs, making them dread it even more when they have to phone in sick due to a Migraine. Of the Migraineurs interviewed:

  • 28% worried that their boss won't believe them.

  • 33% felt guilty for letting their coworkers down.

  • 21% thought their coworkers thought THEY were using Migraine as an excuse to take a day off.

  • 13% admitted that they have used another illness as their reason for taking a day off.

On the other side of the coin, this research confirmed that coworkers don't understand how debilitating a Migraine can be. The research showed:

  • 29% were suspicious that their coworker used Migraine as an excuse to take the day off.

  • 17% were frustrated at having to take on additional work when a coworker was off with a Migraine.

  • 11% felt a Migraineur should come to work as usual.

Dr. Dawn Harper stated:

"Migraine is a debilitating condition and people who are fortunate enough not to suffer sometimes underestimate how unwell a sufferer can feel during an attack, often meaning they are unable to carry on as normal and have no choice but to put life, including work, on hold until they feel better."

Lee Tomkins, Director of Migraine Action Association commented:

"The research shows migraine sufferers worry how their migraines are negatively affecting colleague's views of them. Since the economic downturn we've seen 104% increase in calls to our helpline and we estimate approximately 35% of these are work related issues. These concerns are being exacerbated because more people are currently faced with the very real possibility of redundancy."

So, have you used a Migraine as an excuse when you didn't really have one? I'm curious about this. Please answer the poll. I promise you that it's anonymous; nobody will ever be able to tell how you responded.

I'll admit that it makes me angry to think about people faking a Migraine as an excuse to get out of going to work, or for anything for that matter. The misconceptions about Migraine disease make our lives hard enough. We don't need that kind of "help."

Staff writer. "Migraine 'favoured sickie excuse'." BBCNews. July 7, 2009.

"Migraine the new dodgy prawn excuse?" responsesource.com. July 3, 2009.

Teri Robert
Meet Our Writer
Teri Robert

Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation's Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society.