We examined the costs and benefits of introducing migraine nurses into primary care.
Migraine is one of the most costly neurological diseases.
We analyzed data from our earlier nonrandomized cohort study comparing an intervention group of 141 patients, whose care was supported by nurses trained in migraine management, and a control group of 94 patients receiving usual care. Estimates of per-person direct costs were based on nurses’ salaries and referrals to neurologists. Indirect costs were estimated as lost productivity, including numbers of days of absenteeism or with <50% productivity at work due to migraine, and notional costs related to lost days of household activities or days of <50% household productivity. Analysis was conducted from the payer's perspective.
After 9 months the direct costs were €281.11 in the control group against €332.23 in the intervention group (mean difference −51.12; 95% CI: −113.20-15.56; P = .134); the indirect costs were €1985.51 in the control group against €1631.75 in the intervention group (mean difference 353.75; 95% CI: −355.53-1029.82; P = .334); and total costs were €2266.62 in the control group, against €1963.99 in the intervention group (mean difference 302.64; 95% CI: −433.46-1001.27; P = .438). When costs attributable to lost household productivity were included, total costs increased to €6076.62 in the control group and €5048.15 in the intervention group (mean difference 1028.47; 95% CI: −590.26-2603.67; P = .219).
Migraine nurses in primary care seemed in this study to increase practice costs but decrease total societal costs. However, it was a nonrandomized study, and the differences did not reach significance. For policy-makers concerned with headache-service organization and delivery, the important messages are that we found no evidence that nurses increased overall costs, and investment in a definitive study would therefore be worthwhile.