How do you make sure to ask the right questions of your doctor?

July 25, 2007

Here’s an article on a review of 33 studies of strategies such as question prompt sheets, pre-session “coaching sessions”, and watching videos.  The review found that some strategies were “somewhat effective”, i.e., nothing seemed made more than a small improvement, but it did make an improvement.  The lead author, Paul Kinnersly of Cardiff University, suggests that people think about a doctor’s appointment ahead of time, write down their concerns, and consider bringing a family member to help ask questions and to remember the answers.

It seems there’s also room for targeted strategies; I mean, doctors, like people who are not doctors, vary in how you can best communicate with them.

One thing we suggest to people at CrazyBoards, a support forum for mentally ill people, when they are having trouble communicating something serious (and/or complicated) to their doctor, is to print out the post they talked about it all in, and bring that in to their doctor.  If the immediate interpersonal pressure of the social interaction is what’s making it extra hard (or the problem is having to say it aloud, or to interrupt the doctor, or to say their piece without being interrupted, or something similar) thinking it all out ahead of time, writing it down, and asking them to read what you’ve written may help.