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Another Reason to Communicate With Your Doctor

What's your relationship with your health care provider? Do you talk about your health problems openly and honestly, or do you keep most of your opinions and feelings inside - perhaps out of fear that your doctor "won't listen" or "won't understand"?

Communication is the key to optimizing treatment, say Swiss researchers after conducting a controlled clinical trial on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers.

Findings suggest that feedback sessions should be held on a monthly basis between patients and their doctors, due to the changing patterns of RA and the uniqueness of its effect on each patient. The trial, which included 228 patients and 48 rheumatologists, used a rheumatoid arthritis disease activity index (RADAI) questionnaire. Patients who saw the largest advantage of feedback were those with "high disease activity," with a reduction of more than three points in their RADAI scores.

While the stats indicate success through patient-to-doctor updates, they echo a common complaint among health care administrators: "Tell us what's wrong - on an ongoing basis."

The doctor-patient relationship is one of the keys to making sure you stay healthy, and if you have an illness or disease that requires constant assessment, it's an even more important tool to get you back on the road to health. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your doctor - or if you don't think your doctor is comfortable or interested in talking/listening to you - try to open the communication lines, or find another doctor. Your health is that important.

Reference:

Fransen J, Stucki G, Twisk J, et al. Effectiveness of a measurement feedback system on outcome in rheumatoid arthritis: a controlled clinical trial. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases July 2003: Volume 62, pp.624 - 629.

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