Neurologists' Evaluations of Experience and Effectiveness of Teleneurology Encounters
Assessment of Smartphone Apps for Common Neurologic Conditions (Headache, Insomnia, and Pain): Cross-sectional Study
BACKGROUND:There are thousands of apps for individuals struggling with headache, insomnia, and pain, but it is difficult to establish which of these apps are best suited for patients' specific needs. If clinicians were to have access to a platform that would allow them to make an informed decision on the efficacy and feasibility of smartphone apps for patient care, they would feel confident in prescribing specific apps. OBJECTIVE:We sought to evaluate the quality of apps for some of the top common, disabling neurologic conditions (headache, insomnia, and pain) based on principles derived from the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) app evaluation model. METHODS:We used the Mobile Health Index and Navigation database and expanded upon the database's current supported conditions by adding 177 new app entries. Each app was rated for consistency with the APA's app evaluation model, which includes 105 objective questions based on the following 5 major classes of consideration: (1) accessibility, (2) privacy and security, (3) clinical foundation, (4) engagement style, and (5) interoperability. These characteristics were evaluated to gain a broader understanding of the significant features of each app category in comparison against a control group. RESULTS:Approximately 90% (187/201) of all apps evaluated were free to download, but only 50% (63/201) of headache- and pain-related apps were truly free. Most (87/106, 81%) sleep apps were not truly free to use. The apps had similar limitations with limited privacy, accessibility, and crisis management resources. For example, only 17% (35/201) of the apps were available in Spanish. The apps offered mostly self-help tools with little tailoring; symptom tracking was the most common feature in headache- (32/48, 67%) and pain-related apps (21/47, 45%), whereas mindfulness was the most common feature in sleep-related apps (73/106, 69%). CONCLUSIONS:Although there are many apps for headache, pain, and insomnia, all 3 types of apps have room for improvement around accessibility and privacy. Pain and headache apps share many common features, whereas insomnia apps offer mostly mindfulness-based resources. Given the many available apps to pick from, clinicians and patients should seek apps that offer the highest-quality features, such as complete privacy, remedial features, and the ability to download the app at no cost. These results suggest that there are many opportunities for the improvement of apps centered on headache, insomnia, and pain.
Understanding How to Strengthen the Neurology Pipeline With Insight From Undergraduate Neuroscience Students
Despite increased neuroscience interest at the undergraduate level, a significant shortage of neurologists in the United States (US) exists. To better understand how to generate more interest in neurology specifically at the undergraduate level, we conducted an anonymous cross-sectional online survey of 1085 undergraduates either in neuroscience courses or majoring/minoring in neuroscience from across the US to better understand their clinical neurology experiences and perspectives. The survey quantitatively and qualitatively assessed students' clinical neurology exposure inside and outside of the classroom, research experiences and career goals. Students were from a broad spectrum of undergraduate institutions (public research university (40.8%), liberal arts College (29.7%) and private research university (29.0%). Most students (89.9%) were looking to pursue graduate studies; 56.9% reported wanting to be a physician and 17.8% expressed interest in obtaining an MD/PhD. Importantly, students reported first exposure to neuroscience at age 16 but felt that they could be exposed to neuroscience as early as 13. Half (50.5%) decided to major in neuroscience before college and a quarter (25.6%) decided to major in their first year of college. Despite high interest in clinical neurology exposure, less than one-third of students had spoken with or shadowed a neurologist, and only 13.6% had interacted with clinical neurology populations. Only 20.8% of students felt volunteer and internship opportunities were sufficiently available. Qualitative results include student perspectives from those who did and did not work with a neurologist, describing how they were or were not able to obtain such opportunities. We discuss translating the survey findings into actionable results with opportunities to target the undergraduate neuroscience interest to improve the neurology pipeline. We describe existing programs that could be integrated into everyday neurology practices and new approaches to learning and training to help leverage the significant undergraduate neuroscience interest. We also raise questions for further research, including exploring (1) how students learn of neurologic conditions/expand their knowledge about additional neurologic conditions, (2) whether qualitative investigation of the experiences of neuroscience undergraduates at specific institutions might provide additional insight, and (3) systems to maintain interest in neuroscience/neurology as students enter medical school.
The role of urgent care centers in headache management: a quality improvement project
BACKGROUND:Patients with headache often seek urgent medical care to treat pain and associated symptoms that do not respond to therapeutic options at home. Urgent Cares (UCs) may be suitable for the evaluation and treatment of such patients but there is little data on how headache is evaluated in UC settings and what types of treatments are available. We conducted a study to evaluate the types of care available for patients with headache presenting to UCs. DESIGN/METHODS:Cross-Sectional. METHODS:Headache specialists across the United States contacted UCs to collect data on a questionnaire. Questions asked about UC staffing (e.g. number and backgrounds of staff, hours of operation), average length of UC visits for headache, treatments and tests available for patients presenting with headache, and disposition including to the ED. RESULTS:Data from 10 UC programs comprised of 61 individual UC sites revealed: The vast majority (8/10; 80%) had diagnostic testing onsite for headache evaluation. A small majority (6/10; 60%) had the American Headache Society recommended intravenous medications for acute migraine available. Half (5/10) had a headache protocol in place. The majority (6/10; 60%) had no follow up policy after UC discharge. CONCLUSIONS:UCs have the potential to provide expedited care for patients presenting for evaluation and treatment of headache. However, considerable variability exists amongst UCs in their abilities to manage headaches. This study reveals many opportunities for future research including the development of protocols and professional partnerships to help guide the evaluation, triage, and treatment of patients with headache in UC settings.
The use of virtual complementary and integrative therapies by neurology outpatients: An exploratory analysis of two cross-sectional studies assessing the use of technology as treatment in an academic neurology department in New York City
Background/UNASSIGNED:Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of patients from populations that sought care in neurology tried complementary and integrative therapies (CITs). With the increased utilization of telehealth services, we sought to determine whether patients also increased their use of virtual CITs. Methods/UNASSIGNED:We examined datasets from two separate cross-sectional surveys that included cohorts of patients with neurological disorders. One was a dataset from a study that examined patient and provider experiences with teleneurology visits; the other was a study that assessed patients with a history of COVID-19 infection who presented for neurologic evaluation. We assessed and reported the use of virtual (and non-virtual) CITs using descriptive statistics, and determined whether there were clinical characteristics that predicted the use of CITs using logistic regression analyses. Findings/UNASSIGNED:Patients who postponed medical treatment for non-COVID-19-related problems during the pandemic were more likely to seek CITs. Virtual exercise, virtual psychotherapy, and relaxation/meditation smartphone applications were the most frequent types of virtual CITs chosen by patients. In both studies, age was a key demographic factor associated with mobile/virtual CIT usage. Interpretations/UNASSIGNED:Our investigation demonstrates that virtual CIT-related technologies were utilized in the treatment of neurologic conditions during the pandemic, particularly by those patients who deferred non-COVID-related care.
Technology as treatment: An exploratory study on the use of virtual complementary and integrative therapies by neurology outpatients [Meeting Abstract]
One sentence summary: The purpose of this investigation was to expand the evidence base on CITs delivered by telehealth by evaluating CIT use in patients who presented to a large urban tertiary care neurology practice and to examine predictors of CIT use during the pandemic.
Background(s): Patients with neurological disorders may seek treatment options in addition to those recommended by their providers. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of patients from populations that sought care in neurology tried complementary and integrative therapies (CITs). Given the reductions in in-person visits and the increases in teleneurology visits, we sought to determine whether patients increased their use of virtual complementary and integrative therapies.
Method(s): By examining two separate datasets that included cohorts of patients with neurological disorders, we assessed patients' use of virtual (and non-virtual) CITs and determined whether there were clinical characteristics that predicted their use. The two studies that comprised this report included one that examined patient and provider experiences with teleneurology visits, and another that assessed patients with a history of COVID-19 infection who presented for neurologic evaluation.
Result(s): Patients who postponed medical treatment for non-COVID- 19- related problems during the pandemic were more likely to seek CITs. Virtual exercise, virtual psychotherapy and relaxation/meditation smartphone applications were the most frequent types of virtual CITs chosen by patients. In both studies, age was a key demographic factor associated with mobile/ virtual CIT usage.
Conclusion(s): Data from our investigations demonstrated that, in addition to its other roles in teleneurology, CIT-related technologies might be utilized in the treatment of neurologic conditions
Association Between Migraine Comorbidity and Psychiatric Symptoms Among People With Newly Diagnosed Focal Epilepsy
OBJECTIVE/UNASSIGNED:Little is known about psychiatric symptoms among patients with migraine and newly diagnosed focal epilepsy. The investigators compared symptoms of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among people with newly diagnosed focal epilepsy with migraine versus without migraine. METHODS/UNASSIGNED:The Human Epilepsy Project is a prospective multicenter study of patients with newly diagnosed focal epilepsy. Depression (measured with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale), anxiety (measured with the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale), and suicidality scores (measured with the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale [C-SSRS]) were compared between participants with versus without migraine. Data analysis was performed with the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test for normality assessment, the Mann-Whitney U test, chi-square test, and linear regression. RESULTS/UNASSIGNED:Of 349 patients with new-onset focal epilepsy, 74 (21.2%) had migraine. There were no differences between the patients without migraine versus those with migraine in terms of age, race, and level of education. There were more women in the group with migraine than in the group without migraine (75.7% vs. 55.6%, p=0.0018). The patients with epilepsy and comorbid migraine had more depressive symptoms than the patients with epilepsy without migraine (35.2% vs. 22.7%, p=0.031). Patients with epilepsy with comorbid migraine had more anxiety symptoms than patients with epilepsy without migraine, but this relation was mediated by age in logistic regression, with younger age being associated with anxiety. Comorbid migraine was not associated with C-SSRS ideation or behavior. CONCLUSIONS/UNASSIGNED:Among a sample of patients with newly diagnosed focal epilepsy, 21.2% had migraine. Migraine comorbidity was associated with higher incidence of depressive symptoms. Future studies should be performed to better assess these relationships and possible treatment implications.
Survey of Pain Medicine Specialists' Familiarity with Migraine Management
OBJECTIVE: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. DESIGN/SETTING/METHODS:Cross-sectional online survey. SUBJECTS/METHODS:Members of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. METHODS: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. RESULTS:Of the 105 respondents, 71.4% were physicians, 34.3% were women, and they averaged 20.0â€‰Â±â€‰13.6â€‰years in practice. The most common specialty was anesthesia (36.1%, nâ€‰=â€‰35/97) followed by neurology (14.4%, nâ€‰=â€‰14/97). About half of providers (55.7%, nâ€‰=â€‰34/61 and 53.3%, nâ€‰=â€‰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%, nâ€‰=â€‰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%, nâ€‰=â€‰50/62) and biofeedback (75.8%, nâ€‰=â€‰47/62) as evidence-based interventions. About 80% of providers (nâ€‰=â€‰50/64) estimate making migraine diagnoses inâ€‰â‰¤â€‰50% of their patients with headache. Providers consider starting preventive headache therapy at 7.1â€‰Â±â€‰3.9â€‰days/month and report referring 34.3%Â±34.2% of patients to behavioral interventions. CONCLUSIONS: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.
Strategies for Behavioral Research in Neurology: Lessons Learned During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Applications for the Future
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:Behavioral therapies are proven treatments for many neurologic conditions. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges for conducting behavioral research. This article aims to (1) highlight the challenges of running behavioral clinical trials during the pandemic, (2) suggest approaches to maximize generalizability of pandemic-era studies, and (3) offer strategies for successful behavioral trials beyond the pandemic. RECENT FINDINGS:Thousands of clinical trials have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from undergoing protocol revisions to suspension altogether. Furthermore, for ongoing trials, recruitment of diverse populations has suffered, thereby exacerbating existing inequities in clinical research. Patient adherence and retention have been affected by a myriad of pandemic-era restraints, and medical, psychiatric, and other complications from the pandemic have the potential to have long-term effects on pandemic-era study results. In the development of post-pandemic study protocols, attention should be given to designing studies that incorporate successful aspects of pre-pandemic and pandemic-era strategies to (1) broaden recruitment using new techniques, (2) improve access for diverse populations, (3) expand protocols to include virtual and in-person participation, and (4) increase patient adherence and retention.
Neuroscience Education as Therapy for Migraine and Overlapping Pain Conditions: A Scoping Review
BACKGROUND:Neuroscience education therapy (NET) has been successfully used for numerous overlapping pain conditions, but few studies have investigated NET for migraine. OBJECTIVE:We sought to 1) review the literature on NET used for the treatment of various pain conditions to assess how NET has been studied thus far and 2) recommend considerations for future research of NET for the treatment of migraine. DESIGN/METHODS:Following the PRISMA guideline for scoping reviews, co-author (TR), a medical librarian, searched the MEDLINE, PsychInfo, Embase, and Cochrane Central Clinical Trials Registry databases for peer-reviewed articles describing NET to treat migraine and other chronic pain conditions. Each citation was reviewed by two trained independent reviewers. Conflicts were resolved through consensus. RESULTS:Overall, a NET curriculum consists of the following topics: pain does not equate to injury, pain is generated in the brain, perception, genetics, reward systems, fear, brain plasticity, and placebo/nocebo effects. Delivered through individual, group, or a combination of individual and group sessions, NET treatments often incorporate exercise programs and/or components of other evidence-based behavioral treatments. NET has significantly reduced catastrophizing, kinesiophobia, pain intensity, and disability in overlapping pain conditions. In migraine-specific studies, when implemented together with traditional pharmacological treatments, NET has emerged as a promising therapy by reducing migraine days, pain intensity and duration, and acute medication intake. CONCLUSION:NET is an established treatment for pain conditions, and future research should focus on refining NET for migraine, examining delivery modality, dosage, components of other behavioral therapies to integrate, and migraine-specific NET curricula.