Receiving Medical Care for Chronic Migraines: A Phenomenological Study

Douglas McPhee, Cameron C. Brown, W. David Robinson, Kimberly Jarzynka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Treating chronic migraine (CM) effectively is one of the greatest challenges a primary care provider (PCP) may encounter. Many patients with CM report dissatisfaction and minimal gains from treatment, despite using the best medical interventions available. For this study, patients with CM and their partners provided insight into how PCPs could improve CM treatment. Methods Using the immersion/crystallization phenomenological method, we collected data from 11 patients with CM and 8 of their partners (N = 19). We analyzed open-ended survey responses about migraine treatment from patients with CM, as well as transcripts from interviews with patients with CM and their partners (14 interviews total) about their medical experiences. Results Participants used a variety of pharmacological and alternative treatments in search of a cure; wanted to be treated more collaboratively; and repeatedly gave up on medical care, but then sought treatment again. Conclusions PCPs could be trained to encourage patients with CM to shift toward accepting and managing migraines rather than endlessly hoping for a cure. Patients could be taught to manage CM using a holistic, biopsychosocial approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-275
Number of pages6
JournalSouthern Medical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • behavioral medicine
  • chronic disease
  • headache
  • pharmacology
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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