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A Healthy Relationship

Build a strong bond with your physician

Do you have a doctor you feel comfortable with and feel you can talk to about anything that's on your mind? If so, that's a very good thing. According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), patients who have a good relationship with their doctor tend to be more satisfied with their care and to have better results.

First, you need to find a doctor who is willing to work with you to make sure you get the care and information you need. But you have to do your part, too. Many people think they shouldn't "bother" their doctor because he or she is too busy, but your doctor is there to listen to your concerns and answer your questions. At the same time, your doctor will appreciate it if you come to your appointment prepared. Knowing in advance what you want to tell your doctor and what you want to ask will make your visit more efficient.

The AHRQ emphasizes the importance of sharing information with your doctor, such as symptoms and your health history. Also be sure to tell your doctor if you're working with any other health professionals, so they can coordinate care. If you're seeing a new doctor for the first time, have your medical records sent over by your previous doctor or bring them with you.

Be Prepared

Doing some homework before your visit can help you ask informed questions and better understand your doctor's answers. The Internet is a great source of information, as long as you stick with sites hosted by reputable organizations or government agencies.

Don't be shy about asking as many questions as you need to, especially if you don't understand something your doctor tells you. Sometimes, this might mean scheduling another appointment or meeting with a nurse or physician assistant. Taking notes can be helpful, or consider bringing someone with you to help you absorb everything you're told.

Before you leave the doctor's office, find out the best way to stay in touch with your doctor between office visits. And don't hesitate to follow up, especially if you have questions, your symptoms change, or you had tests performed and the doctor doesn't call you with results. Also be sure to schedule any follow-up appointments or tests your doctor orders.

Establishing a good rapport with your doctor may take some time—but, as in any healthy relationship, it's well worth the effort.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009