Measuring migraine-related quality of care across 10 health plans

Am J Manag Care. 2012 Aug 1;18(8):e291-9.


Objectives: To refine a previously published standardized quality and utilization measurement set for migraine care and to establish performance benchmarks.

Study design: Retrospective application of the migraine measurement set to health plan data in order to assess patterns of health service utilization.

Methods: Measurement specifications were applied to data from 10 health plans for measurement year 2009.

Results: Of the 2.9 million continuously enrolled members of the health plans, 138,004 (4.7%) met inclusion criteria for the migraine population. Of these, 26% did not have a migraine diagnosis, but were utilizing migraine drugs; 12% had a computed tomography scan within the year (range 8%-25% across plans); and 8% had magnetic resonance imaging (range 6%-11%). Nearly 18% of the migraineurs had 1 or more visits to an emergency department/urgent care center for migraine; few (6%) were followed up with primary care visits. Approximately one-fourth of the migraineurs were not being routinely monitored by a physician. Medication utilization also was examined for members of the migraine population with pharmacy benefits. A significant proportion (42%) were given a migraine preventive, 38% had at least 1 prescription for a triptan, and 2% of those on triptans were potentially overutilizing the medication. Among patients aged 18 to 49 years who were given triptans, 3% had a cardiac contraindication; this percentage rose to 7% for patients aged 50 to 64 years.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the value of standardized measures in identifying potential quality issues for migraine care, including underdiagnosis, overutilization of imaging, and underutilization of preventive drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Managed Care Programs*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Young Adult