Structured Q1 headache services as the solution to the ill-health burden of headache: 1. Rationale and description

on behalf of Lifting The Burden: the Global Campaign against Headache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In countries where headache services exist at all, their focus is usually on specialist (tertiary) care. This is clinically and economically inappropriate: most headache disorders can effectively and more efficiently (and at lower cost) be treated in educationally supported primary care. At the same time, compartmentalizing divisions between primary, secondary and tertiary care in many health-care systems create multiple inefficiencies, confronting patients attempting to navigate these levels (the “patient journey”) with perplexing obstacles. High demand for headache care, estimated here in a needs-assessment exercise, is the biggest of the challenges to reform. It is also the principal reason why reform is necessary. The structured headache services model presented here by experts from all world regions on behalf of the Global Campaign against Headache is the suggested health-care solution to headache. It develops and refines previous proposals, responding to the challenge of high demand by basing headache services in primary care, with two supporting arguments. First, only primary care can deliver headache services equitably to the large numbers of people needing it. Second, with educational supports, they can do so effectively to most of these people. The model calls for vertical integration between care levels (primary, secondary and tertiary), and protection of the more advanced levels for the minority of patients who need them. At the same time, it is amenable to horizontal integration with other care services. It is adaptable according to the broader national or regional health services in which headache services should be embedded. It is, according to evidence and argument presented, an efficient and cost-effective model, but these are claims to be tested in formal economic analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number78
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Barriers to care
  • Global Campaign against headache
  • Headache disorders
  • Health policy
  • Health-technology assessment
  • Needs assessment
  • Primary care
  • Public health
  • Service organization and delivery
  • Structured headache services


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