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Migraine, Headache Affect Shift Workers More Than Day Workers

January 31, 2020

Shift workers are at a higher risk of reporting headache and are more likely to be diagnosed with migraine than day workers, according to new research.

The investigators came to this conclusion after reviewing longitudinal data collected from questionnaires used in the PRISME study. Data were collected in 2007 and 2009 and included responses from civil servants and hospital employees.

Participants with headache (n=2952) were characterized as such if they reported “being bothered by headache during the past 4 weeks.”

Participants with migraine (n=2272) were characterized as such if they reported “ever being diagnosed with migraine by a medical doctor.”

“We used binary logistic regression to compare shift workers with permanent day workers and adjusted for socio-demographic factors,” the investigators wrote.

Results showed that shift workers had higher odds of unspecific headache (OR=1.25) and migraine (OR=1.72) than day workers.

Results also suggested that the effects of shift work on headache and migraine differed between men and women.  

The investigators also performed a subsequent analysis that adjusted for potential mediators. Results of that analysis did not attenuate the associations.

“Shift workers have higher risk of reporting being bothered by headache as well as reporting being diagnosed with migraine,” the researchers concluded. “Future research is needed to disentangle the underlying mechanisms with the aim of reducing headache related to occupational exposures.”

—Amanda Balbi


Appel AM, Török E, Jensen MA, et al. The Longitudinal Association Between Shift Work and Headache: Results From the Danish PRISME Cohort [published online January 11, 2020]. Int Arch Occup Eviron Health

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