Pharmacists and physicians collaborate on headaches

Headache counselling is now being offered in a pilot project at the UBV Pharmacists Clinic.

doctor and pharmacist shaking hands

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After a successful pilot project, UBC Pharmacists Clinic has added a new specialty service: headache counselling.

The pharmacists-led patient care clinic, which opened in 2013 and is the first in Canada to be licensed and affiliated with a university, partnered with the UBC Headache Clinic last June to see whether pharmacists could help patients with debilitating headaches get faster relief.

Since patients often have a lengthy wait before seeing a physician at the Headache Clinic, a pilot was set up to give patients an initial hour-long appointment with a pharmacist. During the appointment, pharmacists review the patients’ symptoms, all their medications, discuss how to effectively take the medications and talk about lifestyle issues. A review of the pharmacist-appointments showed effectiveness and they have since become the new standard of care for the Headache Clinic.

The partnership between the two clinics is a “natural collaboration,” Jason Lin, a pharmacist at the UBC Pharmacists Clinic, said in a statement. “Headache management can be very medication-heavy. There are medications that can cause headaches and medications that can prevent and treat headaches. It can get very complicated, especially when there are medications that patients can self-select off of any pharmacy counter or shelf.”

As a physician at the Headache Clinic, Dr. Sian Spacey appreciates pharmacists’ contribution to helping patients with headaches.

“We can focus on other things, instead of spending all the time collecting information about medications,” said Spacey. “By introducing a combination of lifestyle changes and supplements and medication, we can really dramatically change people’s quality of life. That initial consultation with the pharmacist really makes the appointment with me a lot more effective.”

This article was originally published in the Medical Post, the independent newspaper and online information source for Canada’s doctors.