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Keywords:

  • migraine;
  • health economics;
  • quality of life;
  • productivity

To assess the burden of migraine, we compared the productivity and the perceived health of 991 migraine sufferers (IHS criteria), 1004 other-headache sufferers, and 1757 nonheadache sufferers randomly chosen among volunteers from employees of the French national gas and electricity company. The extent of absenteeism was collected independently from the study subjects during a 4-year period. Performance at work was self-assessed at the end of the followup. The study subjects also completed the Short-Form 36 Health Survey Questionnaire (SF36) and the Spielberger anxiety scale. The number of workdays lost due to migraine was not statistically different between the migraine and control groups, after adjustment for age, sex, and number of health impairments other than headaches. Performance was found to be greatly reduced in migraineurs. The quality of life was poorer and the anxiety level was higher in the migraine group than in the nonheadache group. There was no difference between migraineurs and other-headache sufferers for any variable. The lack of difference in absenteeism between migraineurs and nonheadache subjects calls into question prior research based on self-report. Moreover, it also calls into question the economic impact of migraine due to its indirect costs found in previous studies without e control group. We found that the burden of migraine may be considered mainly in terms of reduced quality of life.