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Behavioral treatment for migraines a cost-effective alternative to meds, study finds
Date:7/5/2011

JACKSON, Miss. Treating chronic migraines with behavioral approaches such as relaxation training, hypnosis and biofeedback can make financial sense compared to prescription-drug treatment, especially after a year or more, a new study found.

Longtime behavioral therapy researcher and practitioner Dr. Donald Penzien, University of Mississippi Medical Center professor of psychiatry, coauthored the study. He said the costs of prescription prophylactic drugs the kind chronic migraine sufferers take every day to prevent onset may not seem much even at several dollars a day.

"But those costs keep adding up with additional doctor visits and more prescriptions," Penzien said. "The cost of behavioral treatment is front-loaded. You go to a number of treatment sessions but then that's it. And the benefits last for years."

Published in the June issue of the journal Headache, the study compared the costs over time of several types of behavioral treatments with prescription-drug treatments. The research team included investigators from Wake Forest University, UMMC and the University of Mississippi.

The researchers found that after six months, the cost of minimal-contact behavioral treatment was competitive with pharmacologic treatments using drugs costing 50 cents or less a day. Minimal-contact treatment is when a patient sees a therapist a few times but largely practices the behavioral techniques at home, aided by literature or audio recordings.

After one year, the minimal-contact method was nearly $500 cheaper than pharmacologic treatment.

"We have a whole armamentarium of behavioral treatments and their efficacy has been proven. But headache sufferers are only getting a tip of these options," said Dr. Timothy Houle, associate professor of anesthesiology and neurology at Wake Forest University, and the study's principal investigator.

"One reason is people think behavioral treatment costs a lot. Now w
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Contact: Jack Mazurak
jmazurak@umc.edu
601-984-1970
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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