According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine is a widespread global problem and one of the most disabling. In the US, more than 10% (39 million) of the population suffer from migraine headaches. Many migraine patients find it challenging to get to in-person consultations while suffering a debilitating headache. Telehealth migraine consultations allow patients to access care when in-person visits are impossible.
Pediatric Telehealth for Migraine
Approximately seven million US migraine sufferers are children. Like adults, they can be debilitated by their condition, yet most migraine research addresses migraines in adults rather than children. Adult migraine research findings are not always applicable to the treatment of pediatric migraines, which makes child research important.
Seeking remedies for the problem, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has funded broad research into migraine telehealth using Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) versus amitriptyline plus CBT.
Previous research has shown that CBT can help reduce the number of days young people have headaches and reduce the disability associated with migraines. Since medication can have serious side effects in children, it is best to avoid them when possible. The PCORI study will examine whether adding medications to telehealth CBT protocol improves outcomes in children or whether they can manage their headaches without pharmaceuticals.
Migraine telehealth is a convenient and viable way for pediatric migraine patients to engage with their healthcare professionals. By improving pediatric migraine telehealth protocols, children can learn coping skills, such as biofeedback and other stress reduction techniques to improve relaxation and overcome depression or anxiety.
Migraine Telehealth CBT Research Funding
PCORI has awarded the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital $12.9 million to conduct the study. The researchers will evaluate children in 15 participating locations to understand the effectiveness of telehealth CBT with and without amitriptyline. Participant registration for the migraine telehealth study started in May 2023. The researchers will draw participants between 10 and 17 from contributing centers nationwide to gather comparative information about the efficacy of medication vs. non-pharmaceutical interventions in treating pediatric migraine.
Migraine Telehealth CBT Research
Led by Ph.D. Scott Powers, the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital research team will evaluate how effectively telehealth CBT reduces the number of headache days and level of incapacity. They will offer Telehealth CBT alone and compare results with telehealth CBT with medication.
The role of telehealth is particularly notable in this study. Much research before the pandemic focused on the efficacy of telehealth versus in-person treatment. In the current study, telehealth CBT is constant while the medication (amitriptyline) is the variable. This study is an example of a sea-change in telehealth adoption. Telehealth is becoming increasingly integrated into direct care strategies for patients who otherwise cannot receive care. Clinicians then can expect to find the focus of future research to be on testing other aspects of behavioral service.
Telehealth CBT and telehealth migraine consultations may be the best way to ensure that clients get the relief they seek without taking the time and effort to visit a clinician in person. The combination of medication and migraine telehealth may offer the best symptom relief for millions of migraine sufferers. Clinicians interested in receiving updates are invited to register here.
Professional Training Development
Pediatric Telemedicine, Telehealth & Teletherapy: Practicing with Children & Adolescents
This workshop aims to bring the pediatric telemedicine and telehealth evidence base to you in ways that are practical, predictable, and doable.