Getting doctor to listen to problems?


Question from Sharni: I am not coping very well with my treatment. When I mention it to my doctor, he glosses over it, and is interested only in my next test results. How can I get him to understand that I need help?
Answers - Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. I would start a visit by not addressing the symptoms you're having as a result of treatment. Try to decide on a day when you feel particularly strong and maybe had your partner or a friend with you, and make your concerns the main point of the visit—the concern being that you do not feel you're being listened to. There is no way your doctor won't pay attention to that.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. It's also important to be firm, but gentle, in how you bring this up. You want to say that you really value his expertise, reputation, and ability to care for you. But also that it is important for him to know that you'd like to shift the focus away from test results to another angle that feels like it's addressing your needs more directly. And you could add that you're confident that he can help you do this.

Then step back a bit and allow him to respond. Give him a chance to re-orient his approach. If you are satisfied with his ability to do that, stick with what's working. If you feel that the relationship can't adjust to meet your needs, then maybe it's worth seeking a second opinion, or shifting your care to another doctor who can provide you with what you need.

On Wednesday, February 19, 2003, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called The Doctor-Patient Relationship. Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about how to find the right doctor for you, and how to create and maintain a good, open relationship with your doctor so you can be sure to get all the care and information you need.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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