The role of the Community Pharmacist in the management of headaches: a survey in Piedmont, Italy & Community pharmacies as epidemiological sentinels of headache: a first experience in Italy

01/01/2015 - 31/12/2018
Prof. Paola BRUSA

Aree / Gruppi di ricerca

Partecipanti al progetto

Descrizione del progetto


Prof. G. Costa (professor), Dr. M. Parente (research grant), Dr. I. Pignata (research grant) 

Members of other units:

Dr. G. Allais, Prof. G. Bussone, Dr. M. Giaccone, Dr. R. Gnavi, Dr. M. Mana, Dr. A. Mandelli, Prof. G.C. Manzoni Dr. S. Rolando, Dr. C. Scarinzi, Dr. T. Spadea



-          Order of Pharmacists of Turin, Italy

-          Italian Headache Foundation (FICEF onlus)

-          Associazione Neurologica Italiana per la Ricerca sulle Cefalee (ANIRCEF)

-          Federation of the Orders of Italian Pharmacists (FOFI)

-          Epidemiology Unit, ASL TO3, (ASL S.C. a D.U. Servizio Sovrazonale di Epidemiologia),

-          ATF Informatics Society. 


-          Federation of the Orders of Italian Pharmacists (FOFI),

-          Italian Headache Foundation (FICEF onlus)


Headaches are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. A large number of people suffering from headache are not diagnosed and treated. The unmet needs in migraine can be faced by involving the community pharmacist in the management of the pathology but only if he receives an adequate and continuous education both on the management of therapies and on the maintaining of a stable relationship with the medical doctor and/or patient.

At the beginning in Piedmont a specific study to identify migraine sufferers has involved the community pharmacies. A specific questionnaire, designed by the Italian Headache Foundation (FICEF non-profit association), was applied in order to assess the patterns of use and dispensing of analgesic medications to the headache patient who turns to the pharmacist for the relief of a painful attack. This study aimed to identify migraine patients who self-medicated, with further end points such as: whether these patients shared some particular clinical characteristics, which was the most common type of analgesic medications used and what, if any, was recommended by the pharmacist; lastly, which healthcare professional, if any, routinely managed the patient's headaches.

Given the differences in the self-treatment of migraine headache, with either medications or specialist consultation or both, community pharmacists can play a key role in assisting migraine sufferers manage their condition. By using their knowledge of which types of headache can be safely self-treated and which should be referred to a physician for specialist care, pharmacists can provide counseling to improve the therapy adherence, particularly with triptan therapy or other prescription drugs for migraine headache.

Given the significant results by the study carried out in Piedmont, it was decided to export the project on a national level.

The study was designed as a cross-sectional survey based on face-to-face interviews using questionnaires drawn up by experts and based on the scientific literature; given the unusual nature of the centres responsible for recruiting the subjects, i.e., community pharmacies, it was decided to carry out a specific training course for the data gatherers to ensure that the data were collected with the most standardised procedure possible.

Out of the 610 pharmacists trained with an online course, 446 gathered a total of 4425 correctly compiled questionnaires.

The results are currently being evaluated from the epidemiological point of view to obtain outcomes and guidelines from the health policy point of view. 

Keywords: Community pharmacy; Medication overuse headache; Migraine, Adequacy of health care, migraine, headache, ID migraine screener test, questionnaire


Ultimo aggiornamento: 05/10/2017 11:37
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