One of the many challenges faced by people with migraine in Aotearoa New Zealand is access to health professionals to help with the management of their migraine disease.
We hear about two challenges in particular. The first is being able to see a neurologist or other specialist to confirm the diagnosis of migraine and to get advice about treatment plans, often when the general practitioner (GP) is not sure what to do next. Trying to see a neurologist in the public health system may not even be possible, due to long waiting lists or referrals being kicked back to the GP. Seeing a neurologist in private is expensive and may also involve a long wait. In addition, there are few headache specialists in Aotearoa, neurologists with an interest and additional training in headache care.
The second challenge is being able to access complementary and allied health care services, such as acupuncture, massage therapy and physiotherapy, which are fee-for-service and may require multiple visits, and multiple payments, in order to experience a significant or long-term effect.
In our Migraine in Aotearoa New Zealand Survey, we asked respondents about whether they'd seen a range of health and allied health professionals about migraine. We wanted to know whether people had seen these health professionals recently (in the last 12 months) or sometime in the past (more than 12 months ago) or had never seen them. We also wanted to know how many of those who had never seen each type of health professional would like to see them, or didn’t want or need to.
This is what we found (Figure 1). Most people (70%) had either seen a GP in the last 12 months (dark purple bar in the figure) or in the past (26% - light purple bar). Few (2%) had never seen a GP for migraine but would like to. This suggests that the vast majority of people with migraine are able to get to a GP to talk about migraine.