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Perceptions and needs of patients with migraine: a focus group study.

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J Fam Pract. 2002;51:142-147.

OBJECTIVE: This study's purpose was to identify the areas that people find most difficult in living with migraines and, in that regard, what kinds of assistance would be most helpful to them and to other people who have migraine headaches. STUDY DESIGN: Four focus groups, each consisting of 4 to 8 participants, were held. Discussions, which were recorded and organized according to category and theme, focused on problems in living with migraines and effective treatment of migraines. POPULATION: Participants were 24 people who had been experiencing 1 to 2 migraines a month, each lasting 1 to 2 days, for at least 6 months. RESULTS: Five themes emerged: (1) impact on family, (2) misunderstanding by others, (3) effect on work, (4) physician care issues, and (5) issues related to medical insurance and drug companies. A majority of participants identified early treatment as the most important consideration for new migraine sufferers. Many participants preferred to have a relationship with their physicians in which they developed a treatment plan together rather than receiving generic educational materials. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that patients are interested in understanding their migraines and securing relevant information in addition to obtaining pain relief. Patients desired collaborative relationships with their physicians and a team approach to treatment. Suggestions for physicians who treat patients who have migraines are reviewed.

Comment: This small study based on focus groups builds on earlier work by Russell Packard and John Edmeads that was intended to determine what patients really want from a healthcare consultation. In this era of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of pharmaceuticals, it would be interesting to pursue further the issues raised by patients relating to medical insurance and drug companies. DSM

Despite its small size, the article is a useful reminder from Dr. Holroyd's group that information is what patients seek most urgently, with treatment second. SJT
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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