Going to the doctor? Don't draw a blank at your next visit

27 Jun 2017

Australians are being encouraged to plan ahead for their medical appointments and have the confidence to ask questions about the tests and treatment options they’re being offered.

As part of a national push to reduce unnecessary healthcare, today Choosing Wisely Australia has launched a new video campaign with two key messages: times have changed and it’s okay to ask questions of health professionals; and prepare questions in advance so you don’t forget them.

Choosing Wisely Australia is part of a global movement to improve the safety and quality of healthcare through better patient-doctor conversations. NPS MedicineWise launched the initiative two years ago to help eliminate unnecessary or inappropriate health care, where evidence shows there is no benefit or there is a risk of harm.

Dr Robyn Lindner, Client Relations Manager at NPS MedicineWise, said: “It’s important patients have all the information they need about the benefits and risks of any test, treatment or procedure being recommended.

“This can assist in improving their health literacy and help people to make an informed choice about how they want to proceed with the management of their condition,” Dr Lindner said.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has reported that only 40 per cent of adults have the level of individual health literacy they need to be able to make well-informed decisions and take action about their health.

“How much a person understands about risks associated with health decisions, how confident they are in asking questions, and how well they can balance options when decisions need to be made all contribute to their health literacy,” said Dr Lindner.

“This isn’t about people second guessing GPs or questioning their expertise, but being confident and comfortable about the joint decisions they’re making about their health.

"How many times have you sat in in the doctor’s surgery, been asked by the doctor if you had any questions and your mind goes blank? Do you have an older friend or relative who grew up being told ‘you don’t question the doctor’?

“Our new videos explore these concepts with the aim of helping empower Australians to actively participate in the management of their own health.”

Watch the videos on Facebook or YouTube: ‘Old v New’, ‘TumbleWeed’. 

A ‘5 Questions to ask your doctor’ resource is available at choosingwisely.org.au/resources/consumers and is available in 10 community languagues.

* Health Literacy: A summary for Consumers, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, July 2015 

Last reviewed 27 June 2017