Education and coaching can significantly reduce migraine in staff, Swiss study finds

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Employer-provided education and coaching services can significantly reduce the impact migraine has on the workforce, a study has found.

Pharmaceutical firm Novartis developed a Migraine Care programme for its Swiss-based staff and family members and assessed the impact it had on the management of their condition after six months.

Firstly, educational sessions were held for all staff to promote a better understanding of the condition and help Novartis create migraine-friendly work environments. Then, the 320 who signed up to the full programme received nurse-led telephone coaching on migraine self-management for up to a six month period.

This covered progressive muscle relaxation, sleep, stress, diet, managing migraine at work, documenting migraine, nutritional supplements and “medication overuse” headache.

Participants each received action plans covering sleep, hydration, coping techniques and daily routines, among other factors, to help them manage their condition. They had access to a Migraine Buddy smartphone app to help them interact with nurses, view their action plan and access educational material throughout the programme.

Each participant was also asked to keep a log of the number of work days, social activities and household work missed because of migraine and the number of days with reduced productivity due to migraine. This information was used to determine a “migraine disability assessment” score.

Almost three-quarters (72.9%) of participants whose data was analysed for the research, which was presented at the International Headache Conference in Dublin last month, were found to have a migrane disability assessment score that indicated they suffered from at least a mild or infrequent migraine disability.

After six months , the researchers found the mean migraine disability assessment score had decreased significantly, while presenteeism and absenteeism rates improved.

The percentage of participants with migraine disability assessment scores of at least mild reduced from 72.9% to 39% at the end of the study.

Novartis health senior specialist Jelena Mueller said the results showed that employers can effectively help staff improve how they deal with migraine.

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