Many people are more
satisfied with their health care if they share the responsibility with their
doctors. Your doctor is an expert on medical care, but you are the expert on
yourself. Often there is more than one option for diagnosing or treating a
condition. By being a partner with your doctor, you can help choose the option
that best fits your values, beliefs, and lifestyle. You also will feel more
confident about carrying out the chosen treatment.
Here are some
tips for being a good partner with your doctor:
Build a relationship with your doctor.
Let your doctor know that you want to be a partner in your health care. Tell
the doctor what your expectations are.
Be an active participant in each appointment. Listen carefully to what your doctor
says. If you do not understand a diagnosis or treatment, ask questions. Tell
the doctor if you do not think that you can carry out the prescribed
Prepare your child for tests and exams.
Let your child know why he or she is seeing a doctor and what will be done
during the visit. Your child's age and developmental level will determine how
best to prepare him or her. For more information, see the topic Pediatric Preparation for Medical Tests.
What is the reason for your appointment?
your appointment, you will need to answer some important questions so that you
and your doctor can plan your care together. Completing the appropriate forms
before the appointment helps you provide correct and complete information, take
an active role in your health care decisions, and make the most of your limited
Choose the form that best describes your reason
for seeing the doctor.
take prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including herbal remedies or
vitamins, bring all your medicines with you to any appointment with a doctor.
If you cannot bring the medicines, bring a
list of the medicines that you take(What is a PDF document?).
your appointment, write down your daily medicine schedule in a
form that has spaces for hourly entries(What is a PDF document?). Your doctor can help you understand how
much of each medicine to take and when to take each one.
What other forms might be helpful?
If you and your
doctor are going to discuss a new medicine, medical test, surgery, or special
treatment, choose a form from the following list. Then fill in your
information, and take the form with you to your visit. Completing the form will
help you understand the importance of the treatment your doctor is advising for
your health condition. If you do not have the form at the time of your visit,
complete the form at home after the visit.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is
one agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ
supports research initiatives that seek to improve the quality of health care
in America. AHRQ's mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency,
effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The website provides evidence-based information to help people make decisions about
health care services.
American Academy of Family
P.O. Box 11210
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207-1210
The website FamilyDoctor.org is sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians. It offers information on adult and child health conditions and healthy living. There are topics on medicines, doctor visits, physical and mental health issues, parenting, and more.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
This Web site has information about things you can do to
help yourself and your family members be healthy. Topics address child
development, physical activity, healthy eating, reproductive health, mental
health, and more.
KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and
Nemours Home Office
10140 Centurion Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2004). Five Steps to Safer Health Care. Patient Fact Sheet (AHRQ Publication No. 04-M005). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/5steps.htm.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2011). 20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors. Patient Fact Sheet (AHRQ Publication No. 11-0089). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also available online:
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (accessed November 2012). Questions are the answer: Better communication. Better care. Available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/questions.
Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Becoming a responsible health care consumer. In Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 453–484. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Mold JW (2006). Facilitating shared decision-making with patients. American Family Physician, 74(7): 1209–1210, 1212.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.