Feasibility of a brief intervention for medication-overuse headache in primary care--a pilot study

BMC Res Notes. 2014 Mar 20;7:165. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-165.


Background: Medication-overuse headache (MOH) is a common problem in primary care. Brief intervention (BI) has successfully been used for detoxification from overuse of alcohol and drugs. The aim of this pilot study was to develop and test methodology, acceptability and logistics for a BI for MOH in primary care.

Findings: Observational feasibility study of an intervention in a Norwegian general practice population.Six general practitioners (GPs) were recruited. A screening questionnaire for MOH was sent to all 18-50 year old patients on these GPs` list. GPs were taught BI, which was applied to MOH patients as follows: Severity of dependence scale (SDS) scores were collected and individual feedback was given of the relationship between the SDS, medication overuse and headache. Finally, advice to reduce medication was given. Patients were invited to a headache interview three months after the BI. Main outcomes were feedback from GPs/patients about the feasibility and logistics of the study design, screening/recruitment process, BI and headache interviews. Efficacy and patient-related outcomes were not focused. The patients reported a high degree of acceptability of the methodology. The GPs reported the BI to be feasible to implement within a busy practice and to represent a new and improved instrument for communication with MOH patients. The BI requires further testing in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) in order to provide evidence of efficacy.

Conclusion: This feasibility study will be used to improve the BI for MOH and the design of a cluster-RCT.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01078012 (Initially registered as controlled efficacy trial but changed to observational study).

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / diagnosis
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / prevention & control*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • General Practice / methods
  • General Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • General Practitioners*
  • Headache Disorders, Secondary / diagnosis
  • Headache Disorders, Secondary / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Life
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01078012