Pain specialists treat patients with headache and interface with those who use opioids more so than neurologists and headache specialists. We assessed headache medicine knowledge and needs of pain specialists.
Cross-sectional online survey.
Members of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
Survey was based on a prior survey on primary care providers’ knowledge and needs and was iteratively updated by four headache specialists, two with pain medicine affiliations.
Of the 105 respondents, 71.4% were physicians, 34.3% were women, and they averaged 20.0 ± 13.6 years in practice. The most common specialty was anesthesia (36.1%, n = 35/97) followed by neurology (14.4%, n = 14/97). About half of providers (55.7%, n = 34/61 and 53.3%, n = 32/60) were familiar with the American Academy of Neurology Guidelines for pharmacological migraine prevention and the Choosing Wisely Campaign recommendations for limiting neuroimaging and opioids. Less than half of all providers (39.7%, n = 23/58) were familiar with the American Headache Society guidelines for emergency management of migraine. Providers were aware of Level A evidence-based nonpharmacological therapies, with over three-fourths recognizing cognitive behavioral therapy (80.7%, n = 50/62) and biofeedback (75.8%, n = 47/62) as evidence-based interventions. About 80% of providers (n = 50/64) estimate making migraine diagnoses in ≤ 50% of their patients with headache. Providers consider starting preventive headache therapy at 7.1 ± 3.9 days/month and report referring 34.3%±34.2% of patients to behavioral interventions.
Dissemination and implementation of headache guidelines is needed for pain medicine specialists. Providers may need help diagnosing migraine based on currently accepted guidelines and referring for evidence-based behavioral therapies.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.