Background: Cluster headaches (CH) are recurrent severe headaches, which impose a major burden on the life of patients. We investigated the impact of CH on employment status and job burden. Methods: The study was a sub-study of the Korean Cluster Headache Registry. Patients with CH were enrolled from September 2016 to February 2018 from 15 headache clinics in Korea. We also enrolled a headache control group with age-sex matched patients with migraine or tension-type headache. Moreover, a control group including individuals without headache complaints was recruited. All participants responded to a questionnaire that included questions on employment status, type of occupation, working time, sick leave, reductions in productivity, and satisfaction with current occupation. The questionnaire was administered to participants who were currently employed or had previous occupational experience. Results: We recruited 143 patients with CH, 38 patients with other types of headache (migraine or tension-type headache), and 52 headache-free controls. The proportion of employees was lower in the CH group compared with the headache and headache-free control groups (CH: 67.6% vs. headache controls: 84.2% vs. headache-free controls: 96.2%; p = 0.001). The CH group more frequently experienced difficulties at work and required sick leave than the other groups (CH: 84.8% vs. headache controls: 63.9% vs. headache-free controls: 36.5%; p < 0.001; CH: 39.4% vs. headache controls: 13.9% vs. headache-free controls: 3.4%; p < 0.001). Among the patients with CH, sick leave was associated with younger age at CH onset (25.8 years vs. 30.6 years, p = 0.014), severity of pain rated on a visual analogue scale (9.3 vs. 8.8, p = 0.008), and diurnal periodicity during the daytime (p = 0.003). There were no significant differences with respect to the sick leave based on sex, age, CH subtypes, and CH recurrence. Conclusions: CH might be associated with employment status. Most patients with CH experienced substantial burdens at work.
- Cluster headache
- Sick leave