Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a disease management model for primary headache by: (1) assessing improvement in patients' quality of life, (2) decreasing headache-related visits to primary care and emergency departments, and (3) maintaining high levels of patient and physician satisfaction.
Background: Patients with headache regularly seek health care but, in general, are dissatisfied with the care they receive. Patients with primary headaches utilize resources and cost health plans more than patients with other chronic diseases. Primary care visits are time restricted, prohibiting adequate headache evaluation and management. Practice guidelines are inconsistently followed, and access to headache specialists is limited. This headache management program implemented an alternative means of delivering care to manage large volumes of patients with headache. A multidisciplinary team approach coordinated by a neurologist, utilizing education and a nurse practitioner as the main provider of care, was the central process of the program.
Methods: This was a pilot study involving a prospective cohort with defined outcome measures. Inclusion criteria were adult patients with primary headaches. Patients initially attended an educational session instructed by a neurologist and a nurse practitioner. The patient was subsequently evaluated by the nurse practitioner who developed and coordinated a comprehensive individual treatment plan. The Migraine-Specific Quality of Life and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Questionnaires were completed at baseline, at follow-up visits, and 6 months after completion of the program. Subjective patient assessment of improvement in their headaches, chart review for tabulation of headache-related visits, and primary care physician satisfaction surveys were measured.
Results: Both the Migraine-Specific questionnaire and the Short Form-36 measurements demonstrated a statistically significant improvement at 8 weeks, and this was maintained for 6 months after completing the program. At completion of the program, 92% of patients reported subjective improvement. Patient visits for headaches to primary care and emergency departments showed a significant decrease. High levels of satisfaction for primary care physicians were achieved.
Conclusions: A disease management model using a multidisciplinary team improved individualized patient care. This model increased patient/provider rapport and communication through an educational class. It empowered the patient to take control of their health care by utilizing shared decision making. Patient satisfaction improved and overall health care utilization was reduced.