Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Communication Gap Between Migraine Doctors & Patients

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According to a study conducted by the National Headache Foundation and drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, there is a profound communication gap between migraine patients and their doctors. There is a lot we can learn from this.

The big findings included:
  • Rather than scheduling appointments specifically to discuss their migraine attacks, patients are scheduling appointments regarding other health issues and slipping in questions and concerns about their migraines. Seventy percent of patients' visits to their primary care physicians were for purposes other than discussing their migraines.
  • Doctors wish their patients would keep diaries of their attacks, including information about what medications they've taken and how well they worked. They said more information about their patients' pain levels and other symptoms would also improve their ability to help their patients.
  • Based on physician and patient responses about what topics are being covered during office visits, patients aren't remembering all the details their doctors are giving them about how and when to take their medications and other important migraine management issues. For instance, 78% of doctors said they discussed when to take migraine medications with their patients, but only 18% of patients recalled having this conversation with their doctors. The same was true regarding discussion of personal migraine triggers.
  • Patients and doctors both wish they had more time to discuss patient satisfaction with prescription migraine medications.
  • Patients said the number one topic addressed during their appointments was prescription medication refills, while doctors said the most frequently discussed topic at appointments was migraine frequency.

What can you do as a patient to help improve communication with your doctors?
  • Come with a list of questions and concerns.
  • Take notes during your appointment. You should also consider bringing a hand-held audio recorder, but ask for permission before you start taping.
  • Call your doctor's office if you have questions after your appointment or between appointments. Your doctors and their staff would rather you ask than assume.

New Survey Finds Gap in Doctor-Patient Migraine Communication

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.