ARMR Shows Potential in Furthering Research

A study published in Headache® demonstrated the American Registry for Migraine Research’s ability to highlight larger trends among headache patients and help improve treatment 

Data gathered in the American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR) will allow for longitudinal and advanced analytics, according to a recent paper published in Headache®. Jessica Ailani, MD, FAHS, and colleagues outlined ARMR research methods and reported baseline data describing an initial cohort. 

“ARMR data … are expected to lead to a better characterization of patient heterogeneity, healthcare resource utilization, identification of endophenotypes, factors that predict treatment outcomes and clinical course, and ultimately advance the field toward precision headache medicine,” the authors write. 

Dr. Ailani recently spoke with the American Headache Society about the review, which was led by Todd Schwedt, MD, FAHS. She shared her thoughts on how ARMR can benefit headache research.

“The purpose of the paper was to allow the scientific community to have a good understanding of why we created a registry,” Dr. Ailani says.

The Review

Drs. Schwedt and Ailani, with colleagues, reported on summary data from ARMR participants who completed at least one baseline questionnaire between February 2016 and May 2019. Descriptive statistics were used to provide an overview of patient’s sociodemographics, headache diagnosis, headache characteristics, most bothersome symptoms other than headache, headache-related disability, comorbidities, and treatments.

The majority of patients represented were found to be middle-aged women, with the most frequent diagnosis listed in the registry being chronic migraine. 

“That wasn’t surprising for migraine clinicians, but perhaps migraine patients don’t realize their company,” Dr. Ailani says. “In the migraine community, it’s important to realize that chronic migraine is a common condition, but it’s not spoken about very often.”

Additionally, researchers found the most common non-headache health issues to be allergies, back pain, neck pain, depression, and anxiety. Dr. Ailani highlights that if more patients realized that these issues showed high comorbid rates with patients in the ARMR study, a case could be made for primary care doctors to pay more attention to a patient’s migraine disease and try to help them start management while they are waiting to see a specialist. Dr. Ailani found it noteworthy that almost 25% of patients studied were using non-medication therapy. If that many patients are willing to talk about non-medication options, she says, then it is important to recognize that these patients need more than just standard treatments. 

The study also demonstrated a relatively high disability rating associated with chronic migraine. 

“It’s important that we follow this information with our patients and watch to see if the treatments we’re offering them are improving disability scores,” Dr. Ailani says.

Next Steps

Dr. Ailani says that she hopes that over time, providers will investigate the ARMR registry to answer bigger, broader questions about headache and how it is treated. She says the information can also help providers treating headache disorder patients with comorbid diseases. The larger the registry gets, she says, the more accurate information it can relay. 

“I think there are so many ways that the information can go. It’s just a matter of how many questions can we come up with to really parse through this data,” she says. 

Headache®: The Journal of Head and Face Pain is the official journal of the American Headache Society. AHS frequently reviews published research and provides commentary on the work being done to help advance the understanding of headache and face pain. For more analysis on studies published in Headache®, visit the AHS News page.

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