Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people living with migraine: Results of the MiCOAS qualitative study

Dawn C. Buse, Maya T. Gerstein, Carrie R. Houts, James S. McGinley, Alyssa A. Uzumcu, Kelly P. McCarrier, Alexis Cooke, Nancy M. Touba, Tracy K. Nishida, R. J. Wirth, Richard B. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is an ongoing global health crisis that has had a range of impacts on people living with migraine. Methods: Qualitative interviews performed as part of the Migraine Clinical Outcome Assessment System project, a multi-stage Food and Drug Administration–grant funded program to develop a patient-centered core set of outcome measures for use in migraine clinical trials, offered an opportunity to explore the experience of living with migraine during the pandemic as well as to examine whether migraine treatment priorities, symptoms, and associated disability changed due to the pandemic. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in the United States between the summer and fall of 2020 with 40 individuals with self-reported, medically diagnosed migraine who self-reported that they had not tested positive for or been diagnosed with COVID-19. Results: Seventy percent (n = 28) of the sample reported ≥1 pandemic-related impact on their life with migraine. Fourteen participants reported both positive and negative impacts, twelve reported negative impacts only, and two reported positive impacts only. Among those reporting ≥1 pandemic-related impact, nine participants (32%) reported more frequent and five (17%) reported less frequent migraine attacks. Other negative impacts included interrupted medical care (n = 9; 32%), and greater stress (n = 13; 46%). The most frequent positive impact reported was greater access to health care (n = 8; 29%). Ictal and interictal symptoms were not noted to change due to the pandemic, but some respondents reported less disability due to increased flexibility of schedules and reduced expectations. Treatment priorities did not change due to the pandemic. Conclusion: The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in both negative and positive impacts for people living with migraine. Lessons to be considered when moving into a post-pandemic world include benefits of and satisfaction with telehealth and the benefits and importance of healthy lifestyle habits and flexibility such as improved sleep, reduced stress, and fewer social expectations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-293
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Food and Drug Administration
  • coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • impact
  • migraine
  • pandemic
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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