The productivity cost of migraine

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    Migraine has a significant impact on employee productivity in the Philippines in terms of impaired work performance, high financial costs and lower quality of life. On average, annual productivity costs lost due to migraine disability were Php27,794 per person and could go up to Php41,280 for those with high disability.

    These were the key findings of a new study conducted by researchers from Ateneo de Manila University and Wellbridge Health, Inc. with support from Novartis Healthcare Philippines. Results of the study were published on October 27, 2020 in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

    Migraine is a type of headache disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of moderate to severe head pain that is typically throbbing, often on one side of the head and associated with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.

    Stress and looking at computer screens were cited as the top trigger for migraine, while sleeping enough hours and getting a massage were cited as top coping mechanisms. Three in four (77%) visited their company clinic within the past 3 months, which meant that most employees with migraine-related symptoms consulted general practitioners. Five in six (85%) took medication for migraine, almost all of which were over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

    Researchers noted that there are local companies that try to provide ample support for medical consultations through their employee benefits programs. “[However], there are opportunities to implement other interventions such as prevention and wellness programs such as setting up dark rooms in offices, and providing educational materials and education tools to monitor migraine. Most medications taken for migraine remain OTC medicines for symptom relief, and further research is needed to gauge willingness of employers to pay for preventive medication for migraine.”

    “This study is important as it provides local data on the burden of migraine among Filipino workers, as well as highlights the need to implement workplace wellness programs and explore new preventive and treatment options for migraine,” said Dr. Rosalina E. Picar, President, Philippine Neurological Association.

    “A social media analysis done by Novartis found that the stress and anxiety induced by the COVID-19 pandemic have triggered migraine attacks in patients all over the world. We hope that the results of the study can help inform employers and health care professionals in crafting workplace disease prevention programs and enhancing migraine care, especially during these challenging times,” said Mr. Jugo Tsumura, President and Managing Director, Novartis Healthcare Philippines, Inc.