November 19, 2021

2021 Scottsdale Headache Symposium: Migraine at Work

Gain insights into the 2021 Scottsdale Headache Symposium and how migraine education programs can affect workplace productivity.

IHS-GPAC Executive Committee members Nim Lalvani and Olivia Begasse de Dhaem, MD, were proud to present data from the IHS-GPAC Workplace Initiative at the Scottsdale Headache Symposium in 2021, including findings from the Fujitsu case study.

The Scottsdale Headache Symposium is a leading education event in the headache medicine field since 1970. It has served as a comprehensive platform for evidence-based information on the diagnosis and treatment of headache patients. This year, the symposium featured topics like cluster headache diagnosis, migraine classification and migraine at work. Read on to learn more about migraine at work.

Why should we care about migraine in the workplace?

Migraine is a major cause of disability for adults under 50 in the U.S. and worldwide. But it is often silent in the workplace. Still, those with migraine know that it isn’t. The pain, the unpredictability of migraine attacks and the feeling of isolation can have a negative influence on people’s career choices and productivity.

During the Migraine in the Workplace panel, Dr. Begasse de Dhaem shared how unmanaged migraine can disrupt personal lives and workplace dynamics:

  • 90% reported migraine negatively impacts their overall life.
  • The estimated annual cost of migraine-related productivity loss to employers is $13 billion in the U.S. A study done at Fujitsu estimated that one in five employees are impaired by migraine, costing the company $350 million each year for 150,000 employees.

But employers can help. There are interventions that can decrease presenteeism and absenteeism. Successful migraine education programs -such as the IHS-GPAC Migraine Fitness at Work- significantly increase productivity:

  • Overall productivity has grown by 29-36%.
  • Employees’ self-reported productivity on days when they were working with a migraine attack has grown by around 10%.
  • Number of days worked with an attack has decreased by about 32%
  • Work absences due to migraine have decreased by around 25%.

Although migraine education programs entail costs to employers, the long-term benefits of productivity boom outweigh the investment, as revealed in the Novartis case study:

  • Novartis ran a six-month company-wide migraine education and management campaign. The cost was about $1,000 US per employee.
  • After the program, Novartis saw an increase of 8 workdays per year per employee and a 490% positive return on the investment.

Creating a migraine-friendly work environment fosters growth for not only the organization but also its employees. Higher sense of autonomy, job satisfaction and social support all lead to increased productivity.

Turning Migraine Awareness Program Into Action

So, a migraine educational program translates to better business outcomes, but where do we start?

Nim Lalvani, who is also Executive Director of the American Migraine Foundation, shared some insights into IHS-GPAC’s solution—the Migraine Fitness at Work program. The self-paced online program was designed by world-renowned migraine experts and patient advocates. It uses videos, pre- and post-module quizzes, help guides and printable PDF resources to educate the workforce about migraine. Through Migraine Fitness at Work, employees with migraine feel more supported, and those without the disease can understand how to provide a more migraine-friendly workplace.

For 2022 and beyond, IHS-GPAC plans to extend the reach of Migraine Fitness at Work to employers around the world. With the development of more evidence-based studies, we will continue working to raise awareness in the workplace and ensure a supportive environment for people with migraine.

If you’re interested in bringing the IHS GPAC Workplace Initiative to your workplace, learn more and find helpful tools to help you make a difference on the IHS GPAC website.

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