Merle L. Diamond, MD, is President and Managing Director of the Diamond Headache Clinic
I'm excited to be working with the National Headache Foundation (NHF) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to help close the gap in doctor-patient migraine communication!
The NHF and GSK recently sponsored a survey that was funded by GSK to assess patient and physician dialogue as it related to migraine management. The survey revealed a gap in communication between patients and their physicians. As physicians, we most often base our treatment guidance on the information provided to us by our patients, making in-office conversations an important part of the migraine management process.
The survey found that while patients and physicians are having conversations about migraine management, patients may not always recall key pieces of information from these conversations and/or physicians may be misinterpreting the emphasis or time devoted to a particular topic - bottom line, physicians and patients differ in what they say is being most frequently discussed. One reason for the communication gap may be that migraines are often addressed as part of a larger health discussion instead of as a point of focus. According to the survey, patients saw their primary migraine healthcare provider an average of six times in the past year, but 70 percent of these visits were related to other health conditions.
A possible obstacle to having effective patient-physician communication is that some patients struggle to recall or describe their migraine experiences and/or how their primary acute migraine medication worked, which can make discussing migraines with their physician more challenging. In fact, one-third of physicians (35%) said they find it difficult to evaluate how well their patients' primary acute prescription migraine medication works, primarily citing their patients' inability to accurately recall or describe their recent migraine attack (50%) or how well their primary migraine medication worked (70%) as reasons for this.
Resources like a migraine diary or symptom tracker may be very valuable in helping patients better track their migraine experiences, which may ultimately help them facilitate more informed discussions with their physician. I personally have found it helpful when my patients keep a migraine diary - and the survey showed that a majority of both physicians and patients agreed as well.
Editorial and other support for the survey was provided by the National Headache Foundation, with funding, development and other support provided by GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Merle L. Diamond was compensated by GlaxoSmithKline for her participation in this campaign.