Analysis of the Patients Attending a Specialist UK Headache Clinic over a 3-Year Period


Address all correspondence to Dr. Andrew J. Dowson, King's Headache Service, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS, UK.


Objective.—This study analyzed the profile of patients who attended a specialist UK headache clinic over a 3-year period.

Methods.—An audit was conducted of the clinical records of patients attending the specialist headache clinic at King's College, London, between January 1997 and January 2000. Data were collected for diagnoses given, current medications taken, medications prescribed and recommended, and investigations conducted. Results were calculated as numbers and proportions of patients for the 3-year period and for the 3 separate 12-month periods.

Results.—A total of 458 patients were included in the audit. Most patients were diagnosed as having chronic daily headache (CDH, 60%) or migraine (33%). Prior to the clinic visit, most patients with CDH and migraine treated their headaches with analgesics, and there was little use of prophylactic medication. In the clinic, 74% of patients with CDH and 85% of migraineurs were prescribed prophylactic medication, and 81% of migraineurs were given triptans for acute treatment. Diagnostic testing was performed in 12% of the patients, and all results were normal or negative.

Conclusions.—CDH and migraine were the most common headache types encountered in this UK secondary-care clinic. Review of treatment patterns used prior to the initial clinic evaluation suggests that management of CDH and migraine in UK primary care is suboptimal, and educational initiatives are needed to improve headache management.