Migraine patients face the same overall degree of stigma that is attached to epilepsy, although they may experience less discrimination, according to two studies reported in Medpage, as excerpted below:
“An Internet-based survey of 705 individuals quizzed on their attitudes toward patients with epilepsy, migraine, and other conditions indicated that levels of stigma — such as beliefs that such people would make poor work colleagues or dinner party guests — were similar between epilepsy and migraine, said Robert Shapiro, MD, PhD, of the University of Vermont in Burlington.
“Separately, questionnaires distributed to 123 patients with episodic migraine, 123 with chronic migraine, and 62 with epilepsy indicated similar self-perceived levels of stigma associated with episodic migraine and epilepsy, according to William Young, MD, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and colleagues. Both studies were reported at the International Headache Congress.
“Chronic migraine patients scored substantially higher on the Stigma Scale for Chronic Illness (SSCI) than either of the other two groups — mean 54.0 (SD 20.2) versus 41.7 (SD 14.8) for episodic migraine and 44.6 (SD 16.3) for epilepsy — but that appeared to be driven by the chronic migraine patients’ genuinely reduced ability to work, the researchers indicated.What was more interesting, Young and colleagues indicated, was that the migraine patients reported more “internalized” stigma — negative attitudes in themselves or anticipation that others would think negatively of them — and less actual discrimination on the basis of their illness, compared with the epilepsy patients.Shapiro said that more research is needed to address such questions as to whether men or women are more prone to hold stigmatizing attitudes toward migraine, and whether nonmigraineurs who are well-informed about the condition are more or less likely to hold such attitudes compared with migraineurs themselves.