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Gender-specific neurology clinics 'can improve care'

7 September, 2004

Gender-specific
neurology clinics can improve the quality of care and increase users'
satisfaction with the service provided, according to a survey presented
to a recent meeting of the American Headache Society.

Researchers
at the Chicago Women's Neurology Clinic interviewed new patients to see
if they were aware that they were coming to a women's only clinic and
why they were coming.

Dr Susan Rubin, neurologist at the clinic and lead author of the research, said:

"We
undertook a survey of new patients coming to the clinic to see if they
were aware they were coming to a women's neurology clinic, and why they
were coming. We found most of the patients were referred by primary
care physicians, although there was no way we could assess whether they
were sent for gender-specific issues. Very few were there for that
reason. But once there, the patients were very excited about the clinic
and had gender-specific issues they wanted addressed, and felt they
couldn't get (answered) elsewhere.

"The
clinic's focus is on all neurology-related issues, and we decided to
assess their needs with this survey. As women progress through
lifecycle events - menstruation, pregnancy and menopause - there are
many neurological changes that coincide with those events. There are
adjustments in treatment that need to occur to address those changes,
so by focusing on some of those, you can make more of an impact."

Patient
participation in their own care is also important, so diet, health and
lifestyle changes are addressed at the clinic. The survey also showed
that patients wanted alternative health treatments and more educational
services in managing their own care.

Dr Rubin added:

"Being
tuned in to gender-specific issues can really help tailor treatment.
Recognising that lifecycle events do have an impact on headache control
helps a physician better manage the patient, and that is what we really
are trying to do. There's a push toward gender-specific medicine in
many areas and sub-specialties, and physicians and their patients are
saying it's a great way to deliver care and address the needs of
patients."