How putting a program in place improved outcomes for employees with migraine
Managing migraine at work can be hard for employees, but it also takes a toll on the company.
That’s why Novartis, a global healthcare company based in Switzerland, launched a migraine management program that aimed to benefit both their employees and the company. The program raised awareness of migraine among all employees and provided treatment for employees with migraine.
The results were impressive. The program helped employees with migraine miss fewer days of work and helped the company get a large return on investment. The results of a study on the program were recently published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.
We spoke to Dr. Rashmi Halker Singh, a neurologist and associate professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic Arizona, about what we can learn from the study and what it means for the millions of people with migraine who go to work every day.
How Migraine Impacts Work
In the U.S., businesses lose more than 113 million workdays due to migraine every year. “We definitely know that migraine in the workplace is a big problem for a number of reasons,” says Dr. Halker Singh. “Not just from an individual standpoint, but also from a productivity standpoint and an economic standpoint. We need to find better ways to manage it.”
The effect on business goes beyond missed workdays, Dr. Halker Singh says. When people with migraine go to work during a migraine attack, they might not be very productive. This is known as presenteeism. “You’re not calling in sick, but you’re just not functioning at your full capacity,” she says. “You’re there, but you’re really not getting it all done.”
Dr. Halker Singh compares it to being sick but going to work anyway. “You just kind of slug through your day because you had to be there, but you really got nothing done,” she says. “Migraine can have the same impact.” The impacts from presenteeism are harder to track because the employer sees that an employee is at work. In that way, it’s an invisible loss.