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Book Review: “American Medical Association Guide to Talking to Your Doctor”

American Medical Association Guide to Talking to Your Doctor by Angela Perry; American Medical Association

Community Health Education Ctr. General Collection (R 727.3 .A53 2001)

Reviewed By: Latrice Reid, Community Health Education Center Intern

The American Medical Association Guide to Talking to Your Doctor focuses on the importance of an effective patient-doctor relationship in improving and maintaining your health and reducing future potential health problems. This book is a guide to help patients to become an informed, active participant to be able to take control of their health and medical care (American Medical Association Guide to Talking to Your Doctor 1). This book is divided into six chapters: Choosing a Doctor, What Your Doctor Wants to Know about You, Talking about your Health and Medical Care, Talking to Others, Talking about Sensitive Subjects, and Special Situations.

Traditionally, in most patient-doctor relationships, the doctor talks and the patient listens; the doctor asks questions and the patient gives answers. The doctor has up to 15 minutes with each patient and little time to make sure that the patient understands the medical information that they are telling them. As a result, it can have a negative impact on the patient’s health and medical care. If a patient does not understand the information that the doctor gives, they may be confused and frustrated and lose confidence in their doctor. The patient may decide to stop following their doctor’s advice, their treatment may not be effective, and as a result, their health could get worse (American Medical Association Guide to Talking to Your Doctor 1).

It’s important for patients to be able to choose a doctor that they are comfortable with, because it plays a key role in communicating openly and honestly with the doctor, being able to follow treatment, and ask questions. Also, it is important to do research on the doctors’ educational background and the number of years they practiced as a physician. Patients can also ask friends and family if they can recommend any doctors. Other things to consider when selecting a doctor are cost, location, and if the doctor’s office hours and days are convenient for you. Consumers can also search online to find a physician in their city and state. Patients should explore different options of finding the best doctor for them, in order to have quality health care.

To better help the patient, doctors want information about a patient’s past and current health, previous medications, allergies, lifestyle, and family history. It is also helpful to tell your physician about any surgeries that you might have had. The amount of health information that the patients give their doctors will determine the best possible care for them. “This information is also the foundation upon which you and your doctor will base your relationship” (American Medical Association Guide to Talking to Your Doctor 13).

It is important for patients to make the most out of their office visits with their doctor. This book includes tips on how to do this. Here are some helpful tips that patients can use to make better use of their time in the doctor’s office:

·         Be on time.

·         Get to know your doctor, so you can develop a relationship that leads to mutual trust and respect.

·         Identify and describe your symptoms clearly.

·         Express observations and concerns about your health.

·         Speak openly and honestly with your doctor.

It is important to have a patient-doctor relationship, because it has influence on the patient’s health outcome, following doctor’s orders, and lowering the chances of any future health problems. Patients also become an active member and get to decide how to handle their health care. American Medical Association Guide to Talking to Your Doctor is a great start for patients to learn how to communicate with their doctor effectively.



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