Migraines cost employers millions in productivity, but interventions can help

omparable to rates reported in national surveys, she said. The figures were especially pertinent to Bank One because 70 percent of its employees are women.

"The economic impact of migraine headaches on employers costs is significant because the incidence peaks during the ages of 25 to 55, the prime working years," Schultz said.

Researchers used data from two prior population-based work loss studies to estimate Bank One's total migraine-related lost work days at 118,578 for the year 2000. Forty percent (46,846) of these were actual days absent and 60 percent (71,732) represented lost efficiency while at work. The findings were published in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (http://www.joem.org/)

"In general, people with migraines say they prefer to go to work and/or stay at work while suffering the headache," Schultz said. "The cost of reduced efficiency is less visible but very much present."

Dee Edington, Health Management Research Center director, said: "We are finding in a number of studies that the productivity costs related to what might be called 'secondary' chronic diseases, such as migraine headaches, arthritis, allergies and back pain, are equivalent to the medical costs related to such severe conditions as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer."

What can employers do?

"Work place health care interventions such as occupational health departments and work site disease management programs can save costs by providing education, preventive services and appropriate direct treatment within the work place, where a large part of health-related costs are borne," Burton said.

"Earlier treatment may reduce the intensity or duration and allow the employee to resume work, even if not fully recovered," he said. "It is in an employer's best interests to take a proactive approach to limiting the impact of migraine headaches in the work place."


Contact: Colleen Newvine
University of Michigan

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