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Prevalence of Self-Reported Comorbid
Functional Disorders in Working Women
with Migraine; Results of a Survey
TR Smith
Posted: April 2003  
Headache Quarterly 2002; 13.3:34

Purpose:   To assess the prevalence of migraine comorbidities in a cohort of employed adult females attending an exposition for working women.

Methods:   A random sample of employed adult females who participated in a working women’s exposition in St. Louis answered questions from a health survey administered in March 2000. They were queried regarding their known medical conditions to include migraine, comorbid functional disorders, and other health conditions. The prevalence of each comorbidity was calculated for both the population with migraine and the population without migraine.

Results:   The questionnaires were completed by 1190 females. Of those surveyed, 18.7 percent (223) reported a history of migraine. Migraineurs were found to have a higher prevalence of several disorders including anxiety disorder, tension headache, depression, panic syndrome, sleep disturbance, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. Hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis were similar in both groups.

Conclusions:   It has been suggested that poor control of migraine may lead to increased manifestations of comorbid functional disorders. While these comorbidities are not life-threatening, they do cause significant amounts of disability and health resource utilization. The women who responded to this survey were functional, employed adults, who, interestingly, displayed prevalences of functional disorders consistent with the most incapacitated or non-functional migraine patients, only to a presumed lesser degree of severity. Any worsening of their migraines would likely increase cost of care and decrease productivity not only from migraine but also from comorbid functional disorders. The results of this survey underscore the need for better management of migraine and better screening for other functional illnesses in working female migraineurs.