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Work Absence Due to Headaches Has a Substantial Socio-economic Effect

During a study undertaken by a specialist headache centre, it was observed that eight out of ten people felt they were not as productive// at work; 91 per cent blamed the ineffectiveness to headaches, which they experienced on a regular basis. The study is published in the March issue of Cephalalgia.

"Migraines and tension-type headaches are much more common in people’s forties, when they are often at their most productive, so the socio-economic implications of this chronic disease are considerable" says Gabrielle Vinding from the Danish Headache Centre at the University of Copenhagen.

But it’s not just people who consult specialist services that add to the economic burden, she says. European and American studies suggest that as many as 18 per cent of people suffer lifetime migraines. And the lifetime prevalence of tension-type headaches in Denmark is thought to be as high as 78 per cent.

"In Denmark the total cost of all headache disorders is approximately €74 million per million inhabitants per year" she points out.

"Previous studies have suggested that up to 37 per cent of Danish people have tension type headaches several times a month, 10 per cent have them weekly and up to three per cent have chronic headaches for more than 15 days a month, for most of their life."

55 people took part in the study, which included a structured interview, headache diary and self-administered questionnaire. The survey was carried out over a one-month period and focused on outpatients paying their first or second visit to the clinic, which has an intake of about 1,000 patients a year.

The participants ranged in age from 20 to 78, with an average age of 41. Median headache frequency in the 30-day period before interview was 15 days and the headache intensity was two on a scale of zero to three. Headache-related work absences in the previous year ranged from zero to 365 days, with an average of 57 days and a median of 12 da
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