Epidemiology, work and economic impact of migraine in a large hospital cohort: time to raise awareness and promote sustainability

J Neurol. 2022 Mar;269(3):1456-1462. doi: 10.1007/s00415-021-10715-2. Epub 2021 Jul 20.


Background: Migraine is not routinely assessed at work, making impossible to realize its impact and the potential benefit of migraine-related health strategies. We aimed to assess epidemiology, work and economic impact of migraine in a workplace cohort of a tertiary hospital.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of a cohort of employees working in a Spanish tertiary hospital. Through a web questionnaire, we screened participants for migraine, collecting demographic data, work characteristics, work impairment due to headache (WPAI), treatments and healthcare resource utilization. We calculated direct and indirect costs for the hospital.

Results: Six hundred sixty-seven employees participated (8.8%). 71.2% (475/667) fulfilled criteria for migraine, being 76.8% (365/475) low-frequency episodic migraine (LFEM), 12.6% (60/475) high-frequency episodic migraine (HFEM) and 10.5% (50/475) chronic migraine (CM). Only 56.2% (267/475) were aware of suffering from migraine. Only 43.3% (26/60) of HFEM and 56.0% (28/50) of CM have been on preventive treatment in the last year. Migraine caused an overall economic loss for the hospital of 439,848.90 €/month, as a result of utilization of healthcare resources at the workplace (136,028.0 €/month) and indirect costs (absenteeism + presenteeism: 303,820.90 €/month). Specifically, only 110 participants (HFEM + CM) were responsible for half of indirect costs (165,017.2€/month).

Conclusions: Although healthcare professionals have greater knowledge on health issues, migraine is underdiagnosed and undertreated, leading to a significant economic loss for the hospital. These results urge companies to assess migraine and promote stronger and migraine-specific health strategies at the workplace as a way to improve their own economic sustainability and the burden of migraine in their workforce.

Keywords: Costs; Impact; Migraine; Productivity; Work.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Migraine Disorders* / therapy