Self-reported headache among the employees of a Swiss university hospital: prevalence, disability, current treatment, and economic impact

J Headache Pain. 2013 Mar 26;14(1):29. doi: 10.1186/1129-2377-14-29.


Background: The objectives of this cross-sectional, observational study were to determine the prevalence of self-reported headache among the employees of the large Swiss university hospital, to measure the impact of headache using the MIDAS questionnaire, to assess current treatment and to estimate economic burden of headache considering indirect costs.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed internally to 2000 randomly selected employees of the University Hospital Zurich.

Results: 1210 employees (60.5%) responded. Of the 1192 (98.5%) employees who provided sufficiently complete information, 723 (61%) reported at least one headache type in the last three months. The prevalence of migraine, and tension-type headache was 20% and 50%, respectively. Regarding the occupational groups, there was a trend that healthcare staff, administration employees, and medical technicians suffered more from headaches than physicians, correcting for age and sex. The economic consequences of lost productivity were calculated to amount to approximately 14 million Swiss Francs (9.5 million EUR), representing 3.2% of the overall annual expenditure of the hospital for personnel.

Conclusion: Headache is highly prevalent among university hospital employees, with significant economic impact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Efficiency
  • Female
  • Headache / economics*
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, University / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Young Adult