Results of our recent survey on the stigma of migraine have found that only 6% of people living with migraine do not feel affected by the ‘just a headache’ myth and other stigma of migraine. 484 people living with migraine took part in the study.
The survey unexpectedly found that medical professionals were most likely to stigmatise migraine patients:
- 94% do not feel that medical professionals have a good understanding of what it is like to live with migraine
- 51% of patients feel that medical professionals always or usually do not believe the extent and severity of their symptoms
- 75% reported failing to get adequate medical care because they were not taken seriously
- 56% had been accused of being a drug seeker, mostly by a doctor other than their normal clinicians (such as in the emergency room, or with a different specialist or GP).
Migraine stigma affects all areas of life, but the medical professionals figures are the most alarming. If we can’t get doctors on board with the idea that migraine is a serious, debilitating, genetic condition, we have no hope with the general community.
Currently, only 4 hours is allocated to the study of headache disorders in a standard medical degree, so this problem is arguably not the fault of doctors themselves. But none the less it is a problem we will have to address.
The survey also found:
- Most people with migraine feel their families do not understand their condition and are not supportive
- A third of respondents with children have been made to feel like a bad parent because of their migraine
- Living with unmanaged migraine affects work performance and limits opportunities for promotion
- 93% of respondents who are currently employed have taken time off work in the last year to deal with migraine attacks
- 45% of employers were supportive when migraine is disclosed in the workplace
Migraine Australia currently has a petition on change.org asking for a bipartisan commitment to make managing migraine a national priority. Please sign and share today so that we can make some progress on addressing the stigma of migraine.