How To Talk To Your Doctor

You go to see a physician because you want to learn about the issues you may be having with your health. The reality is you will only have seconds to say anything about your situation. After this, a physician will have a question, comment, or redirect the conversation. If you wonder if your doctor even hears what you’re saying, you are not alone.


This is not everyone’s experience when they go to see their physician, but it is a common one. There was a recent study conducted that showed over 74 percent of physicians believe they have satisfactory communication with their patients. Less than 22 percent of patients treated by these same physicians believe their talks were adequate. In many cases, there is a disconnect between patient and physician that is difficult to accept.

Working Together

It is understood that the better a physician and a patient can speak to one another, the higher a chance a patient will get the correct treatment. A physician and patient must work together to improve the patient’s health. When a person disagrees with what a physician says, they must respectfully communicate it. Trust must be built and maintained between them. There are certain things a patient can do to communicate effectively with their physician.

Make Notes

It may help if you have some notes about your condition before you go to your doctor’s appointment. When you know the questions you want to ask, you will listen more closely to the answers. Patients have to realize that physicians may want to hear about your symptoms and not so much about your health history. Both can help and physicians know that more than 80 percent of proper diagnoses are made by effectively listening to their patients. A list and notes can help a physician remember what they have already told you. If you have your story and questions ready, a physician will be ready to listen.

Honest and Accurate

On the other side, it’s important to remember your physician has many patients who have not told them the whole truth about their symptoms. This usually happens when it involves something a patient doesn’t feel comfortable speaking about. These topics often involve a sexual question as well as the illegal use of drugs 

or alcohol and more. It’s important to try and work on developing a relationship with your physician where you are comfortable being honest and accurate about any issue involving your health. It is important to ask about the best way to contact your physician with any follow-up questions. Feel free to communicate with your physician about your care as well as the experience you’ve had in their office. Physicians appreciate this type of honest communication. They believe it helps them learn more about the care they are providing and how their office
is operating.

Physician’s Barriers

Try to understand your physician is also facing things that put up a barrier for them when it comes to effectively communicating. Patients being confrontational and resistant to answering questions by those who are providing them care. They may unintentionally use jargon a patient could misunderstand. It is possible there is a cultural barrier between a physician and their patient. A patient or physician could simply have a lack of effective communication skills. This often involves not knowing when or how to respond to specific nonverbal cues. There could be an avoidance of social and emotional issues. All physicians have a fear of
being sued.

Communication Models

Physicians are always trying to learn how to communicate better with their patients. They often follow various educational models such as rapport, empathy, support, partnership, explanations, cultural competence, as well as trust  –which is better known as RESPECT. There is also acknowledge, introduce, duration, explanation, as well as thank you– or AIDET. Some medical experts try to teach physicians how to effectively communicate with their patients emphasize the Four Es. This involves engage, enlist, educate, and empathize. This method is used as a way to help patients become active participants in their health care plans.

If you are experiencing a communication problem with your physician, you may need to seek ways to correct the situation. You should always work with a physician that makes you feel as if you can trust them. A doctor who makes you believe they are listening to what you have to say about your medical issues. At the end of a visit, you may want to go over with your physician what was discussed and make certain you are both on the same page. This can lead to a better understanding between the two of you and result in more effective communication taking place.

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