Survey: Pandemic Complicates Migraine Disease Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has made managing migraine disease more difficult, according to a new national survey of patients. 

The Headache & Migraine Policy Forum, in partnership with Migraine Again, surveyed more than 1,000 migraine patients throughout the United States.  Migraine is a painful and often chronic disease that requires treatment to both prevent and relieve symptoms. 

Respondents reported that, during the pandemic, they experienced:

  • More stress (84%)
  • An increase in monthly migraine attacks (69%)
  • Worsening overall health (57%)

Overall, respondents agreed that COVID-19 has made it difficult to access treatment.  The survey also revealed clear opinions about how policymakers can make treatment more accessible for migraine disease, during the pandemic and beyond.

Key Findings:

Respondents agreed COVID-19 made them fearful to seek care. 

  • 61% were afraid to seek care at a medical provider’s office or hospital
  • 74% were hesitant to go to the Emergency Department when experiencing acute symptoms

They also expressed frustration at insurers’ not making treatment more accessible:

  • 70% said insurers did not reduce barriers like prior authorization 
  • 76% said insurers did not stop requiring step therapy
  • 73% said insurers did not allow them to get more of their medication per pharmacy fill

But the survey revealed the growing value of telemedicine in maintaining access to care. 

Many participants reported first using telemedicine during the pandemic.

Before COVID-19:

  • Only 22% of patients had used telemedicine 

After COVID-19:

  • 79% of patients used telemedicine after the start of the pandemic
  • 66% agreed telemedicine allowed them to keep a medical appointment they would have otherwise canceled because of COVID-19

Respondents also agreed insurers could do more to protect telemedicine use:

  • 73% would continue to use telemedicine in the future if insurers did not require additional co-pays
  • 83% hope their health care provider continues to make telemedicine appointments available even after COVID-19

Survey findings underscore the need for insurers and policymakers to do more to protect continuity of care for migraine patients.  As Lindsay Videnieks of The Headache & Migraine Policy Forum explained, “COVID has introduced a host of new challenges for people living with migraine disease.  Telemedicine clearly provides an important link to care, but patients are looking for insurance providers to do more to facilitate care, including cutting red tape and ending delay tactics.” 

To learn more, see the full survey results from The Headache & Migraine Policy Forum and Migraine Again.

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