Discouraged By Your Doctor Visits? This Could Be Why

mbg Associate Health Editor By Darcy McDonough, M.S.
mbg Associate Health Editor
Darcy McDonough is the associate health editor at mbg. She has a master’s degree in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Discouraged By Your Doctor Visits? This Could Be Why

Photo by Tatjana Zlatkovic

Ever feel like your doctor's visits are so rushed that you don't get to actually discuss your major health concerns? You're not alone.

A new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that only 36 percent of patients were given the opportunity to describe the reason for their visit and express concerns up front. And even then, they were only given 11 seconds to speak before being interrupted by the doctor. The results were even more pronounced with specialists, with only 20 percent of patients being asked to describe their situation. These staggering statistics illustrate just how speedy doctor's appointments are becoming. According to the researchers, time constraints, fatigue, and limited patient communication training may be to blame for this alarming pattern.

The exception to this trend? Alternative medicine. Consultations with integrative practitioners typically last 90 minutes, compared to 18 minutes with conventional docs.

Of course, visiting an integrative practitioner isn't realistic for everyone, so it's important to make the most of your time with whichever doctor you're able to see. Integrative neurologist Dr. Ilene Ruhoy recommends putting in a little prep work before your appointment. Think through what questions your doc might ask and come ready with answers—what are your most prevalent symptoms, how often do they occur, how long do they last, and how do symptoms interfere with your quality of life? Also, she suggests leading off the discussion with a prepared expression of your fears and worries, so you can jump right in and set the direction of the conversation, and the doctor can understand the context of your concern. Even though it may feel rude, avoid small talk—remember, the appointment is about you.

At the end of the appointment, Dr. Ruhoy suggests repeating back any recommendations or suggestions your doctor has made, to ensure you have a clear understanding of what may be helpful. Also, confirm any next steps in testing or follow up, and any alternative plans if the initial recommendations are not helpful. This way, you can leave the appointment feeling heard, confident you were able to express the reasons for your visit, and knowing you and your doctor are working together to improve your health and wellness.

Doctors visit still a bust? Check out these 5 tips for talking to your doctor.

And are you ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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