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Keywords:

  • behavioral disturbances;
  • effective communication

The famous question, “Are you talking to me?,” was coined by Robert DeNiro in his lead role as Travis Bickle in the Martin Scorsese classic, Taxi Driver. The phrase also characterizes the troubling encounters that many headache-treating professionals confront as they attempt to discuss serious matters of care and compliance with some of their headache patients. Although most headache patients are eager to take professional advice and guidance, there exists a minority of patients whose behavior undermines a collaborative relationship between doctor and patient. In these cases, the physician may need to directly confront this behavior in order to overcome behavioral barriers that interfere with desirable treatment outcomes. This article offers explicit means and strategies to engage difficult patients, increase the likelihood of program adherence and improvement, and develop a more satisfying doctor-patient relationship, based on clinical experience in a national referral center for difficult-to-manage headache patients.