Prevention of medication overuse and medication overuse headache in patients with migraine: a randomized, controlled, parallel, allocation-blinded, multicenter, prospective trial using a mobile software application

Background: Overall, 55% of the German population suffers from primary episodic headaches according to recent studies. Inadequate management of headache disorders is a significant medical problem. The prevalence of medication overuse headache (MOH) is about 1% with an estimated number of 800,000 people in Germany. Medication overuse (MO) and MOH are usually managed through a complex process of medication withdrawal and initiating of prophylaxis. However, patients who were successfully treated for MO or MOH have a high relapse rate in the following 2 years. Previously, continued monitoring of self-reported medication intake demonstrated lower relapse rates. The prevalence and burden of MO and MOH are high, and effective strategies to prevent the development of a relapse into MOH or de novo MOH are still missing. Therefore, the MOH trial was designed to assess the effects of combining self-reported medication intake with daily monitoring of the entered data and a personalized patient-specific medication intake feedback system in an easy-accessible app-based platform in order to prevent the development and relapse of MO(H).

Methods: The MOH trial is a randomized, controlled, parallel, multicenter, prospective trial. A total of 624 migraine patients with frequent migraine attacks and 336 patients who underwent treatment for MO(H) will be randomly allocated to use either a customized app with or without individual feedback regarding their self-reported medication intake for 12 months. The primary outcome will be the proportion of patients developing MO or MOH for at least 3 consecutive months between baseline and end of study visits.

Discussion: This trial will assess the effects of providing patients with feedback regarding their self-reported use of migraine medications and migraine days using a mobile software on the development or prevention of MO(H). We hypothesize that the development of MO(H) in patients with frequent episodic migraine (EM) or chronic migraine (CM) and relapse after treatment of MO(H) can be reduced by a feedback system. If this trial proves that using an app with specific and unspecific messaging to the patient is successful, this method, which is now investigated mainly in specialized headache centers, could later be extended to primary care, thus providing benefits for a broader patient group.


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