Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Migraine questions in NZ Health Survey could inform its effect on Māori and Pacific

Migraine Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand has been successful in its application to the Ministry of Health to add migraine questions to the 2023/24 New Zealand Health Survey.

Migraine affects an estimated 642,000 people in New Zealand of all ages and is the fourth highest cause of disability nationally. The last time the Ministry of Health asked a question about this common, but often trivialised, neurological condition was in 2013/14.

Co-founder of Migraine Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand Dr. Fiona Imlach says, “This is a huge step forward for migraine research in New Zealand, because the true burden of migraine in this country has never been well understood.”

“There are a few reasons for this. When people were asked about migraine ten years ago in the survey, the way the question was phrased only included people who had been diagnosed with migraine by a doctor. From international research, we know there is a significant number of people who live with migraine but have not been diagnosed by a health professional,” Fiona says.

“This ten-year gap in data has also contributed to our lack of knowledge about how migraine affects Māori and Pacific people. In the 2013/14 survey, Māori had a similar prevalence of migraine than non-Māori and Pacific people had slightly less, although this difference wasn’t statistically significant. Given the well-documented inequalities in health determinants, health outcomes and access to health services for Māori and Pacific people, it’s likely that migraine isn’t as well recognised and managed in these communities and the impact would be greater,” Fiona says.

These new migraine questions in the Ministry’s 2023/24 survey will provide the Foundation and policy makers with a much clearer understanding of the prevalence and impact of migraine across Aotearoa. The data will establish who has migraine in New Zealand, differences across ethnicity and socioeconomic factors and can be used to explore the treatments people are using, the presence of other health conditions and experiences of health care.

The results will also add to insights gleaned from the Foundation’s own online survey last year.

Find out more about Migraine Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand here.

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