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What Does It Take to Be a Good Migraine Doctor?

Posted on February 21, 2020

Article written by
Heather Lapidus Glassner

A good relationship between people with migraine and doctors can contribute to better health outcomes.

In a recent study published in JAMA, two Stanford University researchers looked at actions health care providers (HCPs) “can take to be fully engaged with patients and understand their perspectives, life circumstances and priorities.” The five recommended practices include “agree on what matters most (find out what the patient cares about and incorporate these priorities into the visit agenda)” and “connect with the patient’s story (consider life circumstances that influence the patient’s health; acknowledge positive efforts; celebrate successes).”

The results of a recent online survey conducted by MyMigraineTeam reflect these findings, but from the perspective of the person visiting a doctor or other health care provider. In the survey, MyMigraineTeam members were asked about their experience with doctors and other providers who treat their migraines.

Three Traits of a Good Migraine Doctor

Respondents who were satisfied with their health care providers felt that doctors listen and try to understand their situation, as well as keep an open mind when it comes to trying new medications for migraines.

There are three common themes that MyMigraineTeam members brought up when they talked about their positive relationship with their doctors or other HCPs. Some were pleased that their doctors hear and understand what they are going through and are flexible in trying to help. Others appreciated that they were willing to try new ideas and medications and to keep trying and trying, if necessary. In addition, when the doctors can help them manage or control migraines and symptoms, respondents felt like the doctor had helped.

1) LISTENS TO ME/UNDERSTANDS WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH

What MyMigraineTeam members say about doctors who listen:

  • “My neurologist actively listens and asks a ton of questions in order to figure out the best way to treat me.
  • “He listens to me and is compassionate. He prescribed several different drugs before we were able to find what worked for me… If I have a migraine during office hours, I can call his office and go there for treatment rather than go to urgent care.”
2) WILLING TO TRY NEW IDEAS

MyMigraineTeam members on doctors who try new approaches:

  • “Caring and knowledgeable. He listens to me and tries different things to figure out what works best for me personally, knowing that each patient is an individual and has different triggers and responses to medications.”
  • “She is very receptive to my problem and is willing to try new treatments. She will usually give me a free sample of any new drug before writing a prescription.”
3) HELPS ME MANAGE THE PAIN

MyMigraineTeam members on doctors who find effective treatments for their migraines:

  • “She has helped me to change my medication routine - it has completely changed my life.”
  • “He diagnosed my migraines, gave me a preventative medicine along with two acute medications. I have much better control than many other people.”

Two Ways Doctors Let People With Migraine Down

Not everyone is satisfied with how doctors treat migraines. The two main causes of dissatisfaction are a feeling their doctors don’t listen to them or feeling that doctors aren’t interested in working with them to find pain relief. Sometimes people are frustrated that they are not feeling better and wish the doctor would do more.

1) DOES NOT LISTEN

MyMigraineTeam members on doctors who don’t listen:

  • “[My] doctor doesn't seem to understand the pain and toll it takes on me and my family.”
  • “They don't seem interested in listening to me… I can't get through to them."
2) GIVES UP TRYING TO FIND TREATMENT THAT WORKS

MyMigraineTeam members on doctors who give up trying to treat their migraines:

  • “Nothing stops the pain, depression at all. I feel hopeless.”
  • “[I’m] really dissatisfied that we can't control my migraines.”
  • “I think she has given up on finding solutions that work for me.”

Read more about results from the MyMigraineTeam survey:

What do you think it takes to be a good migraine doctor? What does your doctor do well? What would you like to see done differently? Comment below or post on MyMigraineTeam.

References

  1. Why Nice Doctors Are Better Doctors - U.S. News & World Report
  2. Practices to Foster Physician Presence and Connection With Patients in the Clinical Encounter - JAMA

Heather has over two decades of experience in market research. She has conducted social listening and quantitative survey research across a variety of conditions. Learn more about her here.

A MyMigraineTeam Member said:

My primary dr assistant has been extremely helpful. But when I sought out 2 differnet neurologist both seemed indifferent and dismissed the migraines.… read more

posted 2 months ago

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