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Migraine Patients and Doctors View Appointments Differently

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

A survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation (NHF) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) confirms that Migraine patients and doctors view the results of appointments differently, and we Migraineurs could be doing more to get the most our of our medical visits.

The survey:

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive in 2010. The survey included 1,218 Migraine patients who were taking prescription medications for their Migraine attacks and 533 doctors who treat five to 10 Migraine patients per week.

According to the survey:

  • Patients had seen their primary Migraine health care provider an average of six times in the previous year, but 70% of those visits were related to other health conditions.
  • Sixty-three percent of patients reported that Migraines were discussed during visits where Migraine wasn't the primary reason for the appointment.

The survey showed disparities between what patients reported and what doctors reported:

  • Patients said the number one topic discussed was prescription Migraine medication refills, but doctors said the number one topic was the frequency of  Migraine attacks.
  • Seventy-eight percent of doctors said they typically discuss with patients when to take their medications to treat Migraine, but only 18% of patients reported discussing this topic.
  • Eighty-three percent of doctors said they typically discuss Migraine triggers, but only 38% of patients said this topic was discussed.
  • Sixty-seven percent of doctors said they typically discuss the proper use of over-the-counter medications with their patients, but only 17% of patients reported this being a topic of discussion.

Why is it difficult for doctors to evaluate how well our primary acute Migraine medications work?

Thirty-five percent of doctors said they find it hard to evaluate how well the medications we take when we get a Migraine work because of our inability to accurately remember or describe our recent Migraine attacks (50%) or how well the medication worked (70%).

Nearly all the doctors (96%) agreed that tools such as a Migraine diary, medication usage tracker, pain severity scale, or symptom checklist would help them have more productive conversations about Migraine with their patients. Seventy percent of patients said they'd find these tools helpful when talking with their doctors about Migraines.

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