Dr Amaal J. Starling describes her approach to educating patients on treatments for migraine and explains why shared decision making is so important.
Jill Dehlin, RN: Dr Starling, would you agree that an educated patient who participates in shared decision-making with their health care provider usually has better outcomes?
Amaal J. Starling, MD: Yes, 100%. In this day and age of Dr Google, I have a lot of patients who come to me and they say, “I googled this. I’m so sorry. I know I’m not supposed to Google, but I did,” and then they ask their question. I always reassure people that I want you to be informed, to investigate and look up your own information, but I also want to provide people with appropriate places to find information.
In fact, at every initial visit I have with patients and at every follow-up visit, not only do I recommend nonpharmacologic treatment, preventive treatment, and acute treatment, but I also recommend therapeutic education or therapeutic advocacy. If you have education, advocacy, and empowerment about your disease, you will have better outcomes. This has been demonstrated in chronic disease studies. For example, in diabetes studies, this results in better outcomes, lower hospitalizations, shorter hospitalization, fewer amputations, and things like that. A similar study needs to be done in migraine so we can demonstrate that, but we would suspect that since migraine is a chronic disease, the same thing would apply.
I always provide patients with appropriate resources and organizations that they can join and obtain information. They can become educated about the disease of migraine and what the upcoming novel treatment options are, so that they have hope. If we can get the majority of people with migraine into a health care provider, get them the right diagnosis and appropriate treatment options, we can help treat the majority of people with migraine.
But there is a minority of individuals with migraine who are still struggling, even with all the treatment options we have available. For those people who have tried many of the treatment options we have available, they need to be involved in education and advocacy so they can see what is coming down the pipeline to have that hope for future treatment options. Plus, when you’re involved in advocacy, it can be therapeutic, help with your recovery, and help you have more self-efficacy, so you feel more in control of your disease.
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Transcript Edited for Clarity