Migraine Frequency the Main Driver of Lost Productivity

The study covered in this summary was published on ResearchSquare.com as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaway

  • Migraine attack frequency, not intensity or duration, is the dominating variable for lost productivity at work and at home.

Why This Matters

  • This study showed headache frequency was the most important predictor of lost productivity.

  • These results have implications for current practice headache care and highlight the underutilization of migraine preventatives to reduce attack frequency and regain productivity.

Study Design

  • Individual participant data (IPD) was analyzed from Global Campaign population-based studies in eight disparate countries with large sample sizes (n >1000): China, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Zambia.

  • IPD from eight additional countries (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Spain) were contained in the Eurolight project sample population.

  • All interviews used the Headache-Attributed Restriction, Disability, Social Handicap, and Impaired Participation (HARDSHIP) questionnaire, translated into the local language(s) in accordance with the Global Campaign translation protocols.

  • Symptom inquiry included (a) headache frequency, reported as headache days/month; (b) attack duration, reported in minutes, hours, or days; and (c) headache intensity, reported as “not bad,” “quite bad,” and “very bad.”

  • Only participants with episodic migraine were used in this study.

Key Results

  • Data were available from 5048 participants with migraine in the population-based sample and from 2752 in the Eurolight sample population.

  • Females had migraine episodes more frequently than males in the population-based sample. In the Eurolight sample, duration was longer for females than males.

  • Intensity was similarly distributed between genders, but the proportions with “very bad” headache were greater in the population-based sample than in the Eurolight sample.

  • Lost productivity at work was similar between females and males in the Eurolight sample (2.7 vs 2.5 days/3 months, respectively), whereas females in the population-based sample lost fewer days from work (2.2 days vs 3.3 days/3 months, respectively).

  • Females in both samples reported greater losses than males for household chores (3.9-4.3 vs 2.8-3.0 days/3 months).

  • Both frequency and intensity of migraine attacks were significant predictors of lost productivity at work in males.

  • Duration was a significant predictor for lost productivity at work in females but not in males.

  • Standardized regression coefficients showed that frequency was a much better predictor of lost productivity at work than intensity or duration and was the best predictor of lost productivity at home for both genders.


  • This study used data dependent on subjective evaluation and recall.


  • No funding for this study was reported.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This is a summary of a preprint research study, “The relationship between headache- attributed disability and lost productivity. Attack frequency is the dominating variable” written by Andreas Husøy from the NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology and colleagues on ResearchSquare.com, provided to you by Medscape. This study has not yet been peer reviewed. The full text of the study can be found on ResearchSquare.com.

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