Evaluation of headache service quality indicators: pilot implementation in two specialist-care centres
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Journal of Headache and Pain. 2015, 16 (1), . 10.1186/s10194-015-0537-1
Background Evaluating quality of health care is increasingly recognized as an important contributor to the advancement of health-care delivery. We recently developed a set of quality indicators for headache care, intended to be applicable across countries, cultures and settings so that deficiencies in headache care worldwide might be recognized and rectified. These indicators themselves require evaluation and proof of fitness for purpose. This pilot study begins this process. Methods We tested the quality indicators in the tertiary headache centres of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany, and the Hospital da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal. Using seven previously-developed enquiry instruments, we interrogated health-care providers (HCPs), including doctors, nurses, psychologists and physiotherapists, as well as consecutive patients and their medical records. Results The questionnaires were easily understood by both HCPs and patients and were not unduly time-consuming. The results from the two headache centres were comparable despite their differences in structure, staffing and language. These findings met the purpose of the study. Diagnoses were made according to ICHD criteria and critically evaluated during follow-up. However, diagnostic diaries and instruments assessing burden and response to treatment were not always in place or routinely utilised. Triage systems adjusted waiting times to urgency of need. Treatment plans included pathways to other specialities. Patients felt welcomed, reassured and educated, and were mostly satisfied. Discussion points arose over inclusion of psychological therapies in treatment plans; over recording of outcomes; over indicators of efficiency and equitability (protocols to limit wastage of resources, systems to measure input costs and means of ensuring equal access to the services); and over protocols for reporting serious adverse events. Conclusion This pilot study to assess feasibility of the methods and acceptability of the instruments of headache service quality evaluation was successful. The project is ready to be taken into its next stages.