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A new Irish survey has provided further insights into the negative impact that migraine causes for a significant proportion of sufferers

A new Irish survey has shed light on the impact that migraine causes for a significant amount of sufferers in Ireland. The survey found that 46 per cent of people surveyed in Ireland said migraine impacts their overall health and wellbeing. Furthermore, this survey again demonstrates that migraine has an impact on almost every aspect of their lives, and it shows the significant burden on family and children.

The survey, carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of Teva Pharmaceuticals, shows the reality of life for people suffering with migraine in Ireland. It illustrated that the effects of migraine do not necessarily stop when the attack subsides and that the impact of the condition extends beyond the person suffering with migraine. The survey highlights the need for more work to be done to raise awareness of the impact of migraine on sufferers in Ireland, as migraine can be often misunderstood, with many sufferers hiding their condition from those around them.

Dr Martin Ruttledge, Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, said: “This survey supports previous work that migraine can be a very disabling neurological condition. It is therefore not surprising that migraine is ranked as the second-most disabling non-fatal medical condition by the WHO.

In this survey, almost two-thirds of migraine sufferers (65 per cent) reported a relatively significant negative impact on overall quality of life (rating it between 3/5 and 5/5 on a scale of 1-to-5, where 1/5 represents no impact and 5/5 represents very significant impact). It is concerning that almost two-thirds of migraine sufferers feel that migraine is not taken seriously by Government or society.”


“It is also worrying for me as doctor that more than 50 per cent of patients reported that they did not receive a diagnosis for at least three years (or more) after their first symptoms. As hospital-based healthcare professionals, we are trying to improve this situation by seeing more new patients in our clinics in a timely fashion, so that we can provide them with advice, treatment options and a more integrated or comprehensive approach to their care.

This endeavour is now being supported by the Irish Government, through Sláintecare funding, which is very welcome. As part of this strategy, we are forming partnerships with primary care so as to manage our patients much better, although the Covid pandemic is somewhat limiting this effort.”

One of the most revealing results from the survey was the effect that migraine has on a person’s family and particularly the lives of their children. Among parents, 40 per cent said that their children are impacted by their condition. The results showed:

▶ 57 per cent of parents with migraine said that having migraine had an impact on their ability to provide unconditional parental support to their children.
▶ 53 per cent said that their partner is most impacted by the disease.
▶ 17 per cent of parents with migraine said that their condition impacted the general happiness of their children.
The way in which migraine can shape daily life for those close to the migraineur, with four-in-10 (39 per cent) of migraine sufferers hiding a migraine attack:
▶ 24 per cent said they hid a migraine for work/career reasons
▶ 22 per cent hid their migraine, as they didn’t want everyone to worry about them.
The survey data found that migraine affected many areas of a patient’s life, specifically noting that:
▶ 51 per cent of people with migraine are frustrated.
▶ 30 per cent of people with migraine feel depressed and sad.
▶ 24 per cent of people with migraine feel anxious.

Social impact

The data also showed that migraine damaged people’s personal and social lives, with 52 per cent of those surveyed claiming it has prevented them from going out, 44 per cent saying the disease impacted their ability to exercise, 41 per cent of people saying their career has been impacted by migraine, and 25 per cent stating it had impacted their sex life.

The insights from 265 Irish migraine patients are broadly similar to those reported by patients in other European countries. Irish migraine patients reported feeling more exhausted (53 per cent Ireland vs 51 per cent Europe), but the feeling of frustration (51 per cent Ireland vs 51 per cent Europe) and guilt (15 per cent Ireland vs 14 per cent Europe) remained broadly the same between both.

Sixty-five per cent of Irish patients living with migraine feel that their condition is not being taken seriously by Government or society. Just over half of all patients (52 per cent) claimed it took three or more years to be diagnosed after first experiencing symptoms and a further 47 per cent had to wait another three years at least to get a specific treatment.

Ms Kim Innes, General Manager of Teva UK and Ireland, said: “The impact of migraine on patients and their families is huge, and I think migraine patients deserve better support and help in dealing with this incredibly serious condition. The results of the survey demonstrate there is still a long way to go in developing the right tools and support networks for people living with migraine.

These insights from migraine patients are powerful and show the challenges ahead of us in making sure that migraine is taken seriously as a condition and that the appropriate treatments are made easily available for patients who need them.”