Talking to Your Doctor

A Patient's Guide to Communication in the Exam Room and Beyond

By (author) Zackary Berger

Publication date:

18 July 2013

Length of book:

208 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442220508

The last time you went to your doctor, you might have emerged feeling dissatisfied and disoriented. Nothing was clear after you left the office, and you don’t know whether it’s your fault or the doctor’s. But that’s beside the point: the important thing is to identify the problem at the root of this experience and take steps to change it. Talking to Your Doctor helps readers navigate the new, more promising waters of doctor-patient collaboration, starting at the simplest and most human interaction—the conversation between two people in a room—and ending with the benefits that can be obtained by cultivating an effective partnership. While patients need to take control of the visit and set their agenda, the latest research shows that doctors and patients need to connect on a more emotional level as well.

Talking to Your Doctor, readers will:

•Learn how to talk to your doctor—and get your doctor to talk to you
•Discover the science of doctor-patient communication and its relevance to the lay public
•Remake the relationship with your doctor, and our health care system, on the basis of good communication
•Make sure your visit with the doctor is productive and meets your needs
•Help yourself and others avoid over-testing and over-treatment

Starting with the conversation can redress imbalances and put the relationship of doctor and patient, and eventually the entire health care system, back on a healthy footing. Using illuminating model dialogues, real transcripts from the clinic and hospital, resources for communication improvement, and a brief history of doctor-patient communication, the author helps readers develop strategies for obtaining better care from their doctors, from the minute they step into the exam room.

What is the most commonly performed procedure done by a doctor? The answer is surprisingly simple: interviewing patients. The medical interview has four major purposes: building rapport, collecting information, educating, and proposing possible treatments. Berger, an internal-medicine specialist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, dissects the dynamics and studies the flow of doctor-patient encounters. He offers suggestions for effectively communicating with your doctor (even when you are nervous, embarrassed, and intimidated). Some of the most frequent emotions surfacing during a doctor’s visit are fear, anger, sadness, and frustration. Yet good physicians can help patients plot a course through difficult times by expressing empathy and exercising “emotional nimbleness.” Berger writes, “Healing depends on sensitive emotional navigation as much as objective truth.” Every visit to the doctor’s office is an opportunity for a new beginning and an important dialogue about remaining healthy or feeling better. Patients should feel comfortable about expressing their concerns, and physicians need to listen carefully. Berger’s book lays a strong foundation.