Quality of Life Assessment – Just What the Patient Ordered

Women tell us that they feel that doctors often have one ear in the exam room and one hand on the door, ready to move on to the next patient – time is short, money is tight and patients are often reluctant to speak out and share more than a “fine”, to a doctor’s “how are you?”

Jane Brody’s article in the New York Times, Not Just Small Talk: Quality-of-Life Questions at Medical Exams, suggests that doctors need to take responsibility for getting patients to share more information.

We know this can be challenging. Let’s face it, many female patients often downplay symptoms because they are reluctant to come across as whiners, hypochondriacs, or worse, not healthy.  In recent work we did with women suffering from chronic pain, many told us that they don’t talk about their symptoms with their doctors because they don’t actually want a diagnosis…huh? 

There is a great Whole Truth here – many say they want to be healthy, but often avoid confrontation because a diagnosis can impact how they see themselves, how others see them, and ultimately their lifestyle.

 That said, patients need doctors to push harder to get them to speak up – not just about symptoms but about how they want to feel if their symptoms were to be managed.  Physicians need to ask more, women need to tell more and healthcare companies can provide ways to help each side speak the same language. Once this happens a more collaborative approach to healthcare can be attained.

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May 23, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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