Migraines are intense, frequent headaches that can last for hours and are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Employees who suffer from migraines and other chronic severe headaches tend to report lower job performance and may be absent more often than other workers. How much of this difference is due specifically to the headaches they experience—and therefore potentially manageable with treatment—rather than due to unobservable differences in the types of people with different histories of chronic headaches is not well known. This poses a challenge to understanding the full benefit of therapeutically managing severe headaches.
To better understand whether managing chronic headaches therapeutically can result in better productivity – in terms of absence and job performance – this research report investigates three related questions:
- Does productivity differ among employees with and without a history of migraines or other chronic headaches?
- Is productivity related to how often an employee is bothered by headaches (even if they report no history of chronic headaches)?
- Does headache frequency explain any productivity gaps among employees with and without a history of chronic headaches? In other words, if over a 28-day period chronic headache sufferers experienced relatively few headaches, would we expect them to be as productive as the general population of employees?