Migraine Patient Education about Medication Improves Self-Treatment

New Study Documents the Power of Migraine Medication Education in Helping Patients Manage Pain

BOSTON, June 26, 2013 – Not surprisingly, migraine patients who receive education about their medications at the time of prescription have better understanding about the importance of taking their medications immediately after a headache begins, treating themselves when pain is mild, and not believing it is necessary to fail treatment with OTC medications first before starting the prescription medication.

The findings, presented here in a paper this week at the International Headache Congress, compared migraine patients’ self-perceived vs. actual knowledge about the drug (in this case, the class of anti-migraine drugs called triptans) between those who recalled receiving education and those who did not.

“In addition to having better understanding of how to use their medication, patients who received education at the time of prescription also were more knowledgeable about coronary artery disease as a contraindication for use,” said Eric P. Baron, DO, of the Cleveland Clinic, and lead author of the multi-center study of 207 migraine patients who use triptans.  They were seen as new patients at tertiary care headache clinics including Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Montefiore Headache Center, Thomas Jefferson University, and University of S. Florida.

“We know that patient education is crucial for safe and effective treatment with triptans,” he said, “but we also sought to evaluate the direct benefit of patient education as well as ascertain how many patients were actually getting information on their medications.”  The study was supported by the American Headache Society via an investigator-initiated research grant from Merck.

Triptans are a family of tryptamine-based drugs used as abortive medication in the treatment of migraine headaches, and were approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s.

Triptans are believed to be most effective when taken early in an attack while the pain is still mild and before skin sensitivity increases, a factor that suggests that patient education can lead to better management of migraines.

The International Headache Congress, hosted this year by the American Headache Society, draws about 1,000 headache and migraine researchers and treatment specialists from around the world to hear the latest scientific and clinical information.  This year’s theme – “Revolutionizing Headache Care Through Science” – is a four-day program of teaching and scientific presentations.


Some 36 million Americans suffer from migraine, more than have asthma or diabetes combined.  More than six million Americans suffer from chronic migraine, a highly disabling neurological disorder. Migraine can be extremely disabling and costly, accounting for more than $29 billion in direct (e.g. doctor visits, medications) and indirect (e.g. missed work, lost productivity) expenses each year in the United States.


IHS, founded in the United Kingdom in 1982, is the world’s leading membership organization for those with a professional commitment to helping people affected by headache. The purpose is to advance headache science, education, and management, and promote headache awareness worldwide. IHS publishes the international journal Cephalalgia.


The American Headache Society (AHS) is a professional society of health care providers dedicated to the study and treatment of headache and face pain. The Society’s objectives are to promote the exchange of information and ideas concerning the causes and treatments of headache and related painful disorders. Educating physicians, health professionals and the public and encouraging scientific research are the primary functions of this organization. AHS activities include an annual scientific meeting, a comprehensive headache symposium, regional symposia for neurologists and family practice physicians, publication of the journal Headache and sponsorship of the AHS Committee for Headache Education (ACHE).  www.americanheadachesociety.org

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