Developing a Specialist Patient Program for Migraine
This review outlines a migraine-specific specialist patient program developed by the UK Migraine Action Association (MAA) for delivery to groups of patients with migraine throughout England and Wales. The program, which began in 2004, will deliver courses to 36 groups of 20 patients over 3 years. This paper reports the development of the program and the evaluation of the first six courses. The program enables participants to manage their migraine more effectively and educates them to provide information and support to other patients with migraine. Each course is open to 20 migraine patients aged between 18 and 70 years who fulfill the International Headache Society definition of migraine with or without aura. To develop the specialist migraine program, MAA staff researched the literature regarding the term `expert/specialist patients,' which patients are invited to become after completing the program. MAA staff also consulted with experts in the field and organizations involved in delivering expert patient programs. Each course is delivered by a health professional, usually a general practitioner who is a local member of Migraine in Primary Care Advisors, and two lay trainers from the MAA. Results to date have shown that the majority of participants in the program now feel that they understand their condition better and are able to control it more effectively. Thirty-four percent of participants have agreed to become specialist patients within their own community. The program has succeeded in raising awareness of migraine in the areas visited, educating patients, and creating local networks of support for patients with migraine in these areas, which will complement and be supported by the services already provided by the MAA.
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