Little medical research exists about people with migraine and their satisfaction with their doctors, the topics discussed during appointments, and the quality of their conversations.
For this reason, MyMigraineTeam partnered with a pharmaceutical company to better understand the interactions migraine patients have with their doctors. We conducted a survey of 250 members of the MyMigraineTeam community to understand how members feel about their relationships with the health care providers (HCPs) who manage their migraine symptoms. We wanted to understand how satisfied people living with migraine are with these relationships, and how they communicate with their providers.
To ensure MyMigraineTeam members’ voices are heard, we shared these findings in poster presentations at two recent conferences from the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology.
The survey was taken by 250 MyMigraineTeam members, who live in the U.S., between September and December 2021. Most were women (93 percent), 42 percent had private insurance, and their average age was about 53 years old. All participants reported migraine attacks that moderately or severely affect their day to day life.
When asked about overall satisfaction with their health care provider, 62 percent of people surveyed were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their doctors.
Members’ satisfaction with their relationships with the doctors who manage their migraine symptoms may be related to communication. This survey asked respondents how much they agreed or disagreed with nine statements about communicating with their doctors. Examples of these statements include:
Members who were satisfied with their doctors were much more likely to have emotionally engaging and interactive conversations with their HCP compared with members who were dissatisfied.
When participants were asked what would make these conversations better, some looked for more compassion. One respondent described an interaction with their doctor in this way, “I feel like I give them the info, but it gets brushed off.”
Another said it would be easier to communicate if the doctor “was more willing to actually pay attention to what I was saying and how I was feeling.”
Others wished for more patience from their providers. “These conversations would be better if the provider seemed less rushed and not in such a hurry to generate prescriptions and leave,” a respondent said.
Another said, “It would be better for her to listen to what I have to say, and talk about the medications that have worked that she removed and replaced with less effective meds with more side effects.”
A few mentioned they would appreciate a friendlier tone. “He is not the easiest person to talk to, very serious, so if he was friendlier it would be nice.”
In addition, respondents who saw neurologists who specialize in migraine — also known as migraine specialists — tended to be more satisfied with their doctors.
According to research in the journal Headache, primary care providers are the major providers for migraine care (53 percent), rather than neurologists or headache specialists (23 percent combined). We wanted to know if experiences were different based on the type of doctor members saw.
Respondents in the survey were categorized into two groups:
While 62 percent of participants overall were satisfied with their provider relationship, those who saw neurologists or headache specialists were significantly more likely to be satisfied (75 percent vs. 58 percent).
In addition, those who saw neurologists or headache specialists generally had a better communication experience than those who saw other types of providers. This was particularly true for these aspects of communication:
MyMigraineTeam is the social network for people with migraine and their loved ones. On MyMigraineTeam, more than 77,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with migraine.
Are you satisfied with the relationship you have with the provider who treats your migraine? How could conversations with your provider be improved? Describe your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.