Teens and Young Children Not Getting Optimal Care for Migraine Pain

Five of Every Six Kids in the U.S. Receive No Medication Prescription at All,
But When They Do, Girls More Likely To Get the Right Prescription

WASHINGTON DC, June 17, 2015
– Too many children suffering with migraines are not getting any medication for their pain and too few are receiving care consistent with evidence_based guidelines, according to a new retrospective study of nearly 40,000 American children age six to 17. The study was presented this week at the 57th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society.
“We discovered that the best care occurs for children diagnosed with migraine who are treated in a primary care setting,” said lead author Robert A. Nicholson, PhD, LCP, FAHS, Director of Behavioral Medicine, Mercy Clinic Headache Center & Mercy Health Research in St. Louis.
However, 46% of all children were not prescribed or recommended any medication and 84% were not prescribed or recommended evidence_based acute medication. Of note, girls’ likelihood of getting evidence_based medication was higher than boys’, and overall the best care occurred in a primary care setting, rather than in an emergency room or urgent care clinic.
“We know which medications work best in children and teens with migraine,” Dr. Nicholson said. “It’s time that healthcare providers understand that evidence-based care is the right way to go.”
“Evidence_based” medications are those designated as Level A or B in published guidelines, have been considered best evidence in published expert consensus, or have FDA approval. These include a class of drugs called triptans, as well
as some non_steroidal anti_inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and certain analgesic medications.

The retrospective, observational study used Epic Electronic Health Record derived data to identify children and teens ages 6_17 with primary migraine and headache. These young people presented for care across four states in metropolitan and non_metropolitan areas to either primary care, specialty care, or Emergency Department/Urgent Care (ED/UC). The study found that providers in metropolitan areas were less likely to prescribe evidence_based medications and those in an EDs/UCs were less likely to prescribe any pain medication.

The American Headache Society Annual Scientific Meeting draws about 1,000 headache and migraine researchers and treatment specialists from around the world to hear the latest scientific and clinical information on headache and migraine. This program is four days of teaching and scientific presentations.

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, and publication of the journal Headache.

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