Communication With Healthcare Providers

by Fitcoachion | Last Updated: August 26, 2020


Your doctors have given you a treatment plan that may include diagrams about surgery, recipes for chemotherapy, schedules of radiation, and sometimes a many-year commitment to a once-a-day pill. It’s a great deal to take in. If you’re like most people, you will have questions about the treatment plan. But it’s not always easy to put your questions and concerns into words. Maybe you feel nervous about questioning your doctor, or anxious about trying to understand all of the medical terms. You might feel as if your doctor or nurse does not have the time to explain everything in as much detail as you would like.

It is challenging — but important — to overcome these feelings. If you do not get the information you need, you may find it hard to commit fully to your treatment plan. Trying to do something every day that you don’t understand or believe in is very difficult. When you get your questions answered, putting the plan into action becomes easier and feels much better.

The following strategies may help you in talking with your doctor and other members of your health care team:

If the above tips do not resolve problems with communication, you may need to look for a new doctor. Different doctors have different personalities, and you may just not have found the right fit. Give your best effort to make the relationship work, but don’t be afraid to go elsewhere if you cannot get the kind of communication you need. You may want to tap into an online or in-person support group, such as the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards, to ask other people for recommendations.

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For more information about staying on track with specific types of treatment, visit these sections:

Expert Quote

“Your main medical doctor — your family doctor, gynecologist, internist or primary care doctor — whom you may have known longer, can help explain things to you. A lot of patients lose contact with that physician because they make so many doctor visits. They forget that those doctors are a tremendous resource and like to be navigators — that’s why they went into primary care. They can advocate for you.”

 — Jennifer Griggs, M.D., MPH