Impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on patients with migraine: a web-based survey study

J Headache Pain. 2020 Sep 24;21(1):115. doi: 10.1186/s10194-020-01183-6.


Background: Since the declaration COVID-19 as a pandemic, healthcare systems around the world have faced a huge challenge in managing patients with chronic diseases. Patients with migraine were specifically vulnerable to inadequate medical care. We aimed to investigate the "real-world" impact of COVID-19 pandemic on migraine patients, and to identify risk factors for poor outcome.

Methods: We administered an online, self-reported survey that included demographic, migraine-related, COVID-19-specific and overall psychosocial variables between July 15 and July 30, 2020. We recruited a sample of patients with migraine from headache clinic registry and via social media to complete an anonymous survey. Outcomes included demographic variables, change in migraine frequency and severity during the lockdown period, communication with treating physician, compliance to migraine treatment, difficulty in getting medications, medication overuse, symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, sleep and eating habits disturbance, screen time exposure, work during pandemic, use of traditional medicine, effect of Botox injection cancellation, and overall worries and concerns during pandemic.

Results: A total of 1018 patients completed the survey. Of the respondents, 859 (84.3%) were females; 733 (71.9%) were aged 20 to 40 years, 630 (61.8%) were married, and 466 (45.7%) reported working during the pandemic. In comparison to pre-pandemic period, 607 respondents (59.6%) reported increase in migraine frequency, 163 (16%) reported decrease in frequency, and 105 (10.3%) transformed to chronic migraine. Severity was reported to increase by 653 (64.1%) respondents. The majority of respondents; 626 (61.5%) did not communicate with their neurologists, 477 (46.9%) reported compliance to treatment, and 597 (58.7%) reported overuse of analgesics. Botox injections cancellation had a negative impact on 150 respondents (66.1%) from those receiving it. Forty-one respondents (4%) were infected with COVID-19; 26 (63.4%) reported worsening of their headaches amid infection period. Sleep disturbance was reported by 794 (78.1%) of respondents, and 809 (79.5%) reported having symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

Conclusions and relevance: COVID-19 pandemic had an overall negative impact on patients with migraine. Several risk factors for poor outcome were identified. Long-term strategies should be validated and implemented to deliver quality care for patients with migraine, with emphasis on psychosocial well-being.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Migraine; Pandemic; Psychosocial; Treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19
  • Communication
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Kuwait / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Neuromuscular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Pandemics
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Prescription Drug Overuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics
  • Neuromuscular Agents
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A