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What's up, Doc? Talking with your doctor

Have you ever felt uncertain about how to talk with your doctor? Learn how to make the most of your appointments with these tools for improving communication.

Last time you had a checkup, did your doctor confirm that your communication skills are in good working order?

Good communication between you and your doctor is good for your health.

Here are some tools to help ensure that you are getting what you need from your relationship with your doctor.

  • Make a list. Before you go to your appointment, jot down any questions or concerns you have. Include all symptoms you have been experiencing.
  • Share information freely. Sharing information about your lifestyle and family health history gives your doctor a context for your current health conditions. Although it may feel uncomfortable to share details about your diet, sexual behavior, or alcohol and tobacco use, the information will help your doctor treat you. Remember that doctors are used to discussing personal matters and will try to ease your discomfort.
  • Ask questions. Remember that no question is silly. It is important that you have a clear understanding of the diagnosis, the names and functions of medications, and the plan of action you and your doctor have agreed upon. Keeping quiet will convey understanding, so be sure to speak up if something is unclear.
  • Be assertive. Good healthcare decisions are a collaboration between you and your doctor. State your preferences and opinions clearly. Your doctor can combine them with professional knowledge to reach decisions about your treatment.

reviewed 12/5/2019

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