[HEADS UP] Migraine, stress headaches at work “overlooked disease,” researchers say
A recent study found that headache is a frequent complaint at work and that those who experience recurrent headaches are both physically and cognitively impaired, which negatively affects both productivity and sick leave. And when it comes to solutions such as adapting work during headache attacks, “there is a significant inequality in health,” says principal study author Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen of the University of Denmark.
The researchers used self-reported information from more than 5,000 active Danes with different educational backgrounds -- from people with long academic educations to unskilled workers. Participants answered questions about their health, depressive symptoms, pain in muscles and joints and use of painkillers.
The researchers found that depressive symptoms and pain in muscles and joints play an important role in headache disorders and the ability to work. Individuals with the lowest ability to work were those who didn’t use painkillers at all and those who used painkillers daily.
"This raises the question whether these two groups are undertreated and overtreated, respectively," said Nabe-Nielsen.
Managers and employees should discuss the possibilities for adapting work during attacks in order to reduce absenteeism, such as providing the opportunity to work in a room with less noise -- or outdoors, the opportunity to perform less physically demanding tasks or tasks that are not emotionally or cognitively demanding, the study authors advised.
They added, “Rehabilitation should also address mental health as well as concurrent (musculoskeletal) pain conditions, which potentially benefit from non-medical interventions.”
To read the study, published in the Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, click here
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