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Quality of Life and Productivity in Nurses Reporting Migraine


  • Carol F. Durham MSN, RN,

    Corresponding author
    1. From the School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC and
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  • Kathy R. Alden MSN, RN,

  • Jo Ann Dalton EdD, RN,

  • John Carlson MS,

  • David W. Miller PhD,

    1. Pharmacoeconomic Research, Glaxo Wellcome, plc, Greenford, UK (Dr. Miller).
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  • Sheila P. Englebardt PhD, RN, CNA,

  • Virginia J. Neelon PhD, RN

Address all correspondence to Ms. Carol F. Durham, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina, CB# 7460 Carrington Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460.


A random sample survey was conducted to determine the prevalence of migraine in nurses and to study its effect on quality of life and productivity. Of the 10 000 nurses sampled, 2949 returned the questionnaire for a response rate of 29.5%. The majority (99%) of respondents were employed and worked in hospitals (60%). According to the International Headache Society (IHS) criteria, 17% of the sample (n=495) were classified as having migraine. An additional 25% (n=750) suffered severe headaches but did not meet IHS criteria for migraine, and the remaining 58% (n=1704) were classified as not having either migraine or severe headaches. The migraineurs had significantly reduced work productivity and quality of life compared to both the severe headache and the nonmigraine nonsevere headache groups. This study will increase awareness and sensitivity of the profession to its colleagues who are migraine sufferers.