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Characterization and Prediction of Emergency
Department Use in Chronic Daily Headache Patients
Freitag FG, Kozma CM, Slaton T, Osterhaus JT, Barron R.
Posted: December 2005  
Headache 2005;45:891-898

Objective:   To examine the characteristics of chronic daily headache sufferers who use emergency departments (EDs) and identify factors predictive of ED visits.

Background:   Several large clinical trials have found that a sizable subset of headache patients uses EDs frequently, although such visits should be preventable.

Methods:   Participants in two large clinical trials provided baseline data on ED use, hospitalizations, disability, daily activities, and quality of life.

Results:   Of the 785 patients included, 182 reported at least 1 ED visit over the past year. Most of these patients reported one to six visits; however, 4.4% reported more than 21 visits. The percentage of patients with overnight hospitalizations during the previous year was significantly greater in the ED user group than non-ED user group, as was the number of visits to healthcare practitioners.

Conclusions:   Patients seeking ED treatment for chronic daily headache are more severely affected and have more unmet medical needs than those who do not use the ED. Management strategies that help prevent frequent ED use might be possible.