Telemedicine Effective for the Diagnosis, Treatment of Chronic Headache

skype call with doctor
Patient having telemedicine visit with neurologist
Patients in both groups were satisfied with their care.

Telemedicine is equally as effective as in-person evaluation and treatment of non-acute headache, according to research published in Cephalalgia.

The results are promising for patients who don’t have regular or convenient access to headache specialists.

In order to compare patient satisfaction with telemedicine and its effects on headache burden, diagnosis and treatment compliance, and follow-up consultations, Kai I. Muller, of The Arctic University of Norway, and colleagues randomized 402 patient clinic consultations to either telemedicine or traditional visits over a 2.5 year period.

Data at baseline were compared to data from a 3-month follow-up questionnaire, which queried “satisfaction with the consultation; headache status; subjective improvement, average pain intensity, treatment, headache days per month, and Headache Impact Test (HIT-6); and treatment compliance and follow-up visits.”

Of the 402 patient consultations conducted over the study period, 348 (86.6%) completed the follow-up questionnaire. The researchers found that patient satisfaction was similar across both the telemedicine and traditional consultation groups (88.8% vs 92.3%; P= .35). Measures of improvement of health status were equal across both groups, and there was no difference in treatment compliance, although rural patients assigned to the telemedicine group did have less frequent headache visits at 3 months (28.9% vs 48.7%, P= .002).

The researchers concluded that telemedicine in non-inferior to traditional consultations with a headache specialist regarding patient satisfaction, evaluation, and treatment of non-acute headache.


Muller KI, Alstadhaug KB, Bekklelund SI. Telemedicine in the management of non-acute headaches: A prospective, open-labelled non-inferiority, randomised clinical trial. Cephalalgia. 2016; doi: 10.1177/0333102416654885.