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Validation of a Brief Nurse-Administered Migraine Assessment Tool

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Objective.—To validate a brief tool for screening migraine.

Background.—Migraine is a common, but underdiagnosed condition. Effective utilization of nonphysician personnel to reliably screen patients for migraine may improve identification of migraineurs for clinical treatment and research.

Methods.—An 8-question Migraine Assessment Tool (based on International Headache Society criteria) was designed for administration by a nurse with no specialized headache training as a pre-assessment for the diagnosis of migraine for use in either a research or clinical environment. A community sample of 80 adults (71 women, 9 men; mean age, 33.7 years; 80% white, 14% African American, 2.5% Asian American) with self-reported headache was recruited through advertisements. A headache specialist independently diagnosed subjects using clinical assessment, and a nurse who works in a balance disorder clinic used the Migraine Assessment Tool. Agreement between physician and nurse-administered Migraine Assessment Tool diagnoses was determined. Each subject returned in 2 to 4 weeks for a second assessment, administered by the same nurse. Agreement between the 2 diagnoses from the Migraine Assessment Tool was calculated.

Results.—Comparison between diagnosis by the physician versus the Migraine Assessment Tool revealed a positive predictive value of 0.85; negative predictive value, 0.84; sensitivity, 0.89; specificity, 0.79; and observed agreement, 0.85. Cohen's kappa reliability measure was 0.69, indicating good test reliability. Interestingly, in 8 of the 12 cases of disagreement, the examiner diagnosing nonmigraine diagnosed analgesic overuse headache. Comparing diagnoses assigned by the 2 separate administrations of the Migraine Assessment Tool revealed a Cohen's kappa of 0.69. Notably, 9 of the 12 cases of nonagreement on the 2 assessments were due to subjects endorsing analgesic overuse in only 1 of the 2 testing sessions.

Conclusions.—This study showed good reliability and stability of a new, brief, nurse-administered migraine questionnaire. In addition, the study also showed that consistency in self-reporting analgesic overuse within individuals with headache is poor. This suggests the need for repeat questioning about analgesic overuse on subsequent appointments to ensure absence of analgesic overuse headache.
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Keywords: migraine; questionnaire; validation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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