At a time when health-care costs are under national scrutiny, the study offers a framework for comparing costs that researchers can update and use for years to come.
"We thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun to model this and see how it comes out over time?'" Penzien said. "All the figures are there so if someone disagrees with it, they can plug in their own numbers."
The researchers didn't compare the effectiveness of methods, nor did they calculate the costs over time of individual drugs, since dosages and prices vary widely. Rather, they figured the per-day costs of each method based on fees of physicians and psychologists. For the physician group, they added in the cost of prescription beta-blocker drugs at various prices.
For instance, among the psychologists surveyed, one-on-one behavioral sessions cost between $70 and $250 for the intake visit and $65 and $200 for follow-up visits. That put the median intake cost at $175 and median follow-up cost at $125 for a median 10 visits.
The researchers calculated the median cost of pharmacologic approaches at $250 for the intake session and a professional fee of $140 per session. Median time to the first follow-up was 52.2 days, rising to 60 for the second with a median five visits per year.
To get information on behavioral treatments, the researchers surveyed members of the Behavioral Issues Group of the American Headache Society. For figures on pharmacologic treatments, the researchers surveyed a group of Headache Society-member physicians they knew treated substantial numbers of headache sufferers.
The most expensive behavioral treatment method individual sessions with a psychologist in clinic cost more than pharmacologic treatment with $6-a-day drugs in the first months. But at about five months, individual sessions become competitive. After a year, they are c
|Contact: Jack Mazurak|
University of Mississippi Medical Center