Headache management program improves outcome for chronic headache.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the feasibility of developing a headache management program and to assess the outcomes of patients referred to the program for treatment of chronic headache. BACKGROUND: Effective headache treatment requires that the patient receives the correct headache diagnosis; that appropriate acute and, if indicated, preventive medications be prescribed; and that the patient receives adequate education, including headache self-management skills. DESIGN/METHODS: A headache management program was established at a northern California staff-model health maintenance organization. Fifty-four patients were enrolled in the program and followed for 6 months. Patients participated in a structured program of group and individual sessions with the program manager. Data collection at baseline and 6 months included the Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS), the Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36), a patient satisfaction survey, and 2 additional short surveys--one that assessed patient worries about their headaches and another that queried patients on their problems with headache management. RESULTS: All enrolled patients participated in the initial group visit; 74% had at least one additional visit. All but one patient suffered from more than one headache type. Sixty-one percent of patients suffered from migraine headache and 98% from tension-type headache. At baseline, patients were severely disabled, with a mean MIDAS score of 41. At 6 months, MIDAS scores decreased an average of 21.2 points (P <.005). Patients reported 14.5 fewer days with headache over the preceding 3 months (P <.0001) and experienced clinically significant improvements in 6 of the SF-36 subscales. Patients were significantly more satisfied with their headache care (P <.0001), reported less problems with their headache management (P <.0001), and were less worried about their headaches (P <.01). During the intervention, emergency department visits for headache decreased (P <.02). CONCLUSIONS: A headache management program was successfully established. Patients referred to the program experienced significant improvement in headache-related disability and functional health status and reported greater satisfaction with care. Even so, these results were obtained at one site and in a small sample that was not randomized. We currently are conducting a randomized controlled trial to better evaluate the clinical and financial impact of a headache management program for patients with chronic headache.
Harpole, LH; Samsa, GP; Jurgelski, AE; Shipley, JL; Bernstein, A; Matchar, DB
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