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1.9 Preparing for a doctor’s appointment

Living with a life-threatening illness often means many medical appointments. Talking to health care professionals can be daunting. Before visiting the doctor, take some time to prepare for the appointment.


Before the visit

  • Write a list of all the questions you both have. Don’t be afraid to ask ‘simple’ questions. (Ask for a longer appointment if you have a lot of questions)
  • Make a list of all the care issues you want to discuss
  • Make a list of all the medications being taken, including complementary therapies. Note the dose and any side effects
  • What to bring? (e.g. test results, scans, blood tests) – check with the doctor’s receptionist
  • Record any recent change in condition or symptoms in the diary


During the visit

  • Take notes or record the discussion with the doctor
  • Ensure there is two-way communication. Tell the doctor everything you know that is relevant.
  • Write down any specific instructions
  • Clarify anything you don’t understand
  • Ask the doctor for printed material or where to find further information
  • Ask who you should contact for more help


After the visit

  • Review your notes
  • Record the next appointment in a diary or calendar
  • Call the doctor for test results, if required
  • Contact the doctor about changes in the condition or symptoms