An observational study was recently done by several fellows of the American Headache Society Headache Fellows Research Consortium.
While it is generally believed that patient education and patient knowledge regarding triptan use for acute migraine management are important for successful and safe treatment, the researchers were unsure how knowledgeable triptan users are regarding their triptan usage.
The main objective of the study was to compare triptan users’ self-perceived knowledge and actual knowledge about triptans in patients who said they received triptan education, versus patients who said they had not received triptan education.
The study looked at 207 migraine patients who were using triptan for abortive therapy. The patients were evaluated as new patients at academic headache specialty clinics throughout the US.
While more than 80% of the patients reported receiving education about when to take the triptan and the number of doses they could take for headache, only 71.5% said they received education about triptan side effects, 64% for the number of triptan doses they could take each week/month, and 49% for medical contraindications to triptan use. Compared with patients who did not recall receiving education about triptan usage, the study provided evidence that patients who recall having received education at the time of triptan prescribing had greater knowledge regarding optimal triptan use.
Said the researchers: Successful and safe treatment of migraine with triptans requires proper patient education, not only by headache specialists, but also by primary care physicians, who are often the initial triptan prescribers. This study provides evidence that education about triptans improves patient knowledge on how to optimize triptan use. Findings revealed that triptan users who received education were significantly more knowledgeable about the importance of taking the triptan immediately after a headache begins, treating when pain is mild, not needing to fail treatment with OTC medications before taking a triptan, and understanding that coronary artery disease is a contraindication to triptan use.
Future studies with larger populations, evaluating the effect of triptan education would be useful to confirm these findings and to evaluate the utility of different formats of patient education for improving patients’ actual knowledge. Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain April 2014