4 ways to take an active role in your health

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When interacting with their family doctor, many patients may approach this relationship in a passive role. In this dynamic, the doctor recommends a course of action or treatment, and the patient complies. There are many instances in which this dynamic is required and benefits the patient.

But when it comes to overall health, both patients and doctors are moving toward patients taking an active role in their health.

In this active role, patients become more engaged in their health. Doctors discuss treatments for certain conditions with their patient, and the pair makes decisions together as a team. Patients are also encouraged to learn as much as they can about their health and any conditions they may have and bear some responsibility in the management of those conditions.

“I encourage everyone to find a doctor who listens to your concerns and strives to help you work toward your optimal health,” said Dr. Jason Whateley, a primary care physician with McLaren Port Huron. “I believe a PCP should focus on treating the whole person, including mind, body, and spirit, along with providing individualized treatment regimens for chronic diseases, and staying current with your preventive care services.”

Studies have shown that this approach to health care has aided patients in a number of ways, from improved outcomes, increased satisfaction with their care and even saving money by reducing medical costs.

Consider these four tips to take an active role in your health.

Know family history and note any risk factors
A family history of certain conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and even instances of strokes and heart attacks, can increase the chances of those conditions affecting later generations. Certain risk factors can also increase the chances of developing health conditions. Share this information with your doctor in a shared effort to address them.

Track health and note symptoms
Track your general health and well-being and note any symptoms or changes, no matter how minor. Be sure to include if symptoms or changes developed after certain activities or in a particular environment. Take this information to your appointment and share with your physician.

Look up information and bring questions
Research health conditions or risk factors using credible, trusted sources in order to have meaningful conversations with your physician. Bring any questions you may have to your appointment.

Develop a relationship with your doctor
Trust is paramount in a doctor-patient relationship. Patients who are aiming to take more of a team approach in their health should have a physician they feel comfortable with, and who is comfortable with this approach. This is crucial for it to work for both the doctor’s and patient’s benefit.