Migraines Slow, Don't Stop Workers

April 23, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In yet another sign that workers are toughing it out, nearly 90% of workers have suffered a migraine at work - and roughly two-thirds say they stayed at work despite dealing with the pain.

However, in yet another sign that being at work and being able to work effectively are occasionally at odds, 91% of the 3,000 survey respondents said their ability to function on the job was affected either somewhat or to a great degree. That translates into about 400 hours per person of diminished work performance a year, according to Harris Interactive, who conducted the poll.

In fact, survey respondents said they lost, on average, more than four days of work a year due to migraines. Based on an estimated 18.5 million migraine sufferers in the American workforce, that works out to about 80 million lost workdays per year, according to HealthScoutNews.

Roughly one in five reported suffering severe migraines, and not surprisingly they lost twice as much work time than other migraine sufferers in the three months before the survey, which was conducted from October 28, 2002, to November 5, 2002.

The survey found that 17% of women said their work colleagues didn’t know about their migraine condition, compared to 29% of men. The survey’s authors said male respondents said they were less comfortable discussing migraines and less likely to have told their bosses about suffering migraines.

The vast majority of respondents, 89%, said it’s difficult for people who don’t suffer migraines to understand how migraines affect quality of life.

The survey offered no data as to how many migraines might be the result of being at work.