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Teaching Headache in America: Survey of Neurology Chairs and Residency Directors


  • Maya Kommineni MPH,

  • Alan G. Finkel MD

  • From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Address all correspondence to Alan G. Finkel, University Headache Clinic, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3114 Bio-Informatics Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7025.


Objective.—To determine the status of headache education in American medical schools and Neurology Residency Training Programs.

Methods.—One hundred and thirty-three programs were identified using the Association of University Professors of Neurology listing. Two hundred and seventeen surveys were mailed to departmental chairs (DC) and residency training directors (RTD) with fax back response sheets enclosed. Two additional mailings were sent to nonresponders. Questions regarding the presence of medical school or resident educational opportunities in headache medicine including lectures and electives were included. Additional questions were asked to assess beliefs about headache education in America.

Results.—One hundred nineteen surveys were returned. Ninety-five institutions responded including 75 Chairs and 44 RTD. Eighty percent of institutions have formal medical school lectures in headache/migraine. Fifty-five institutions claim to have a headache clinic, 52 within neurology departments. Thirty-two percent offer a headache elective to medical students. Nearly all departments offer formal resident lectures in headache/migraine, and 57% offer a headache elective. Essentially, all individual respondents believe that migraine is a valid neurological disorder and an important subject to teach in medical school. Ninety-one agree or strongly agree that headache is an important public health issue. Twenty-nine percent agree or strongly agree that headache diagnosis and management is adequately taught. Eighty-four percent believe the pharmaceutical industry has influenced migraine education and management. No important differences in response were found between Chairs and RTD.

Conclusions.—This survey provides the first comprehensive assessment of the status of headache medicine education in academic departments of neurology