Making Health Decisions

Reviewed Feb 27, 2017

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Summary

  • Partner with your doctor.
  • Know your history and risks.
  • Gather information wisely.
  • Trust your instincts.

When it comes to your health and your loved ones’ health, are you overwhelmed as you try to decide what’s best for all of you? As health recommendations, precautions, and rumors abound—and often contradict—it’s no wonder you feel anxious and confused about health choices. These tips may help you feel comfortable and confident about your decisions.

Partner with your doctor

Find a doctor whose advice and expertise you trust. If you don’t have a doctor, ask friends who they like or consult a referral service. If possible, take your time looking for the medical group that best suits your needs and beliefs. Do the same if you need a specialist, surgery or are anticipating a hospital stay.

Tell your doctor your concerns about making health decisions—write them down ahead of time so you don’t forget anything. Schedule a wellness visit and partner with your doctor to prioritize any health goals you should focus on. If he advises you to lose weight, change your diet, start exercising, etc., ask him for tips to make these changes.

If your doctor recommends a medication, medical device, or procedure, share any concerns you have about it. Don’t hesitate to share your worries if you’ve heard reports of side effects or risks. You may even want to get a second opinion if you have doubts about the recommendation.

Know your history and risks

To make the best decisions regarding your health, know your personal and family medical history and any health risk factors that may exist. Do you have a family history of any physical or mental health issue? If so, you will probably make health choices in an attempt to prevent these conditions. Risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, or a sedentary lifestyle also need attention. Discuss all of this with your doctor.

Gather information wisely

Sometimes the source of your anxiety over a health decision is the headlines and warnings you encounter. Once again, tell your doctor your fears.

You can also research reports and rumors on your own. Just be sure to find reliable sources—for example, peer-reviewed medical journals, position papers from reputable groups such as the American Medical Association, or news bulletins from a government agency such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whatever you find, look for the author and publisher information—do they have the expertise to present this information? How current is the information? What sources did they rely on?

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, author of Risk in Perspective: Insight and Humor in the Age of Risk Management, also recommends identifying the source of health claims and considering whether the information is based on untested claims and anecdotes or repeated scientific studies.

Also, keep the statistics in perspective. If one out of 100 people suffered an ill effect from a medication that means 99 people did not. Your doctor may have studied the reports and risks at length, so be sure to ask for his or her input.

Trust your instincts—to a point

If you are still overwhelmed by a health decision after talking to your doctor and gathering information, find a calm moment and write down your fears. Then, setting those fears aside for a moment, try to identify what your “gut” is telling you about a particular choice. Perhaps your instinct to avoid a medication, make a dietary change, have surgery, etc. is appropriate. Rather than argue with your doctor about the decision, share your feelings and ask for alternative treatments or health strategies. The same applies if you believe you are having side effects from a medication or other health treatment. Just be sure that fear and anxiety aren’t the true source of your instincts or your side effects.

Talk with loved ones

You can also discuss concerns over health decisions with trusted loved ones. Let those closest to you help you sort through the benefits and risks of various decisions. There are tools that can help you do this together. Consider using the “Ottawa Personal Decision Guide” devised by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Accept uncertainty

At some point, as you wrestle with health choices, it may help if you accept that you cannot control two realities: We will all age, and we will all die. Yes, you want the healthiest, longest life you can achieve. But constant worry over whether to get a vaccination, eat processed foods, use household chemicals, and so on is actually a health risk that needs attention—constant worry is bad for your health! If you find you cannot stop worrying about your health, consider talking to a mental health professional.

You’ve probably seen how health claims shift and change over the years. Partner with your doctor, be informed, and make the best decision that you can at this time. Then rest in the knowledge that you’ve made your best effort.

Resources

Agency for Health Care Research and Quality
www.ahrq.gov

American Medical Association
www.ama-assn.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov

Medline Plus
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/

National Institutes of Health
www.nih.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
www.hhs.gov

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Personal Health Decision Guide
http://decisionaid.ohri.ca/docs/das/OPDG.pdf 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Thompson, Kimberly (2004) "A Consumer's Guide to Taking Charge of Health Information" Health Insight Project; Golonka, Debby "Making Wise Health Decisions" Healthwise, www.healthwise.com, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, "Personal Health Decision Guide http://decisionaid.ohri.ca/docs/das/OPDG.pdf; (2003) "Becoming a Partner in Your Health Care" American Association of Retired Persons; "Share in Every Medical Decision," WebMD, www.webmd.com

Summary

  • Partner with your doctor.
  • Know your history and risks.
  • Gather information wisely.
  • Trust your instincts.

When it comes to your health and your loved ones’ health, are you overwhelmed as you try to decide what’s best for all of you? As health recommendations, precautions, and rumors abound—and often contradict—it’s no wonder you feel anxious and confused about health choices. These tips may help you feel comfortable and confident about your decisions.

Partner with your doctor

Find a doctor whose advice and expertise you trust. If you don’t have a doctor, ask friends who they like or consult a referral service. If possible, take your time looking for the medical group that best suits your needs and beliefs. Do the same if you need a specialist, surgery or are anticipating a hospital stay.

Tell your doctor your concerns about making health decisions—write them down ahead of time so you don’t forget anything. Schedule a wellness visit and partner with your doctor to prioritize any health goals you should focus on. If he advises you to lose weight, change your diet, start exercising, etc., ask him for tips to make these changes.

If your doctor recommends a medication, medical device, or procedure, share any concerns you have about it. Don’t hesitate to share your worries if you’ve heard reports of side effects or risks. You may even want to get a second opinion if you have doubts about the recommendation.

Know your history and risks

To make the best decisions regarding your health, know your personal and family medical history and any health risk factors that may exist. Do you have a family history of any physical or mental health issue? If so, you will probably make health choices in an attempt to prevent these conditions. Risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, or a sedentary lifestyle also need attention. Discuss all of this with your doctor.

Gather information wisely

Sometimes the source of your anxiety over a health decision is the headlines and warnings you encounter. Once again, tell your doctor your fears.

You can also research reports and rumors on your own. Just be sure to find reliable sources—for example, peer-reviewed medical journals, position papers from reputable groups such as the American Medical Association, or news bulletins from a government agency such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whatever you find, look for the author and publisher information—do they have the expertise to present this information? How current is the information? What sources did they rely on?

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, author of Risk in Perspective: Insight and Humor in the Age of Risk Management, also recommends identifying the source of health claims and considering whether the information is based on untested claims and anecdotes or repeated scientific studies.

Also, keep the statistics in perspective. If one out of 100 people suffered an ill effect from a medication that means 99 people did not. Your doctor may have studied the reports and risks at length, so be sure to ask for his or her input.

Trust your instincts—to a point

If you are still overwhelmed by a health decision after talking to your doctor and gathering information, find a calm moment and write down your fears. Then, setting those fears aside for a moment, try to identify what your “gut” is telling you about a particular choice. Perhaps your instinct to avoid a medication, make a dietary change, have surgery, etc. is appropriate. Rather than argue with your doctor about the decision, share your feelings and ask for alternative treatments or health strategies. The same applies if you believe you are having side effects from a medication or other health treatment. Just be sure that fear and anxiety aren’t the true source of your instincts or your side effects.

Talk with loved ones

You can also discuss concerns over health decisions with trusted loved ones. Let those closest to you help you sort through the benefits and risks of various decisions. There are tools that can help you do this together. Consider using the “Ottawa Personal Decision Guide” devised by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Accept uncertainty

At some point, as you wrestle with health choices, it may help if you accept that you cannot control two realities: We will all age, and we will all die. Yes, you want the healthiest, longest life you can achieve. But constant worry over whether to get a vaccination, eat processed foods, use household chemicals, and so on is actually a health risk that needs attention—constant worry is bad for your health! If you find you cannot stop worrying about your health, consider talking to a mental health professional.

You’ve probably seen how health claims shift and change over the years. Partner with your doctor, be informed, and make the best decision that you can at this time. Then rest in the knowledge that you’ve made your best effort.

Resources

Agency for Health Care Research and Quality
www.ahrq.gov

American Medical Association
www.ama-assn.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov

Medline Plus
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/

National Institutes of Health
www.nih.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
www.hhs.gov

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Personal Health Decision Guide
http://decisionaid.ohri.ca/docs/das/OPDG.pdf 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Thompson, Kimberly (2004) "A Consumer's Guide to Taking Charge of Health Information" Health Insight Project; Golonka, Debby "Making Wise Health Decisions" Healthwise, www.healthwise.com, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, "Personal Health Decision Guide http://decisionaid.ohri.ca/docs/das/OPDG.pdf; (2003) "Becoming a Partner in Your Health Care" American Association of Retired Persons; "Share in Every Medical Decision," WebMD, www.webmd.com

Summary

  • Partner with your doctor.
  • Know your history and risks.
  • Gather information wisely.
  • Trust your instincts.

When it comes to your health and your loved ones’ health, are you overwhelmed as you try to decide what’s best for all of you? As health recommendations, precautions, and rumors abound—and often contradict—it’s no wonder you feel anxious and confused about health choices. These tips may help you feel comfortable and confident about your decisions.

Partner with your doctor

Find a doctor whose advice and expertise you trust. If you don’t have a doctor, ask friends who they like or consult a referral service. If possible, take your time looking for the medical group that best suits your needs and beliefs. Do the same if you need a specialist, surgery or are anticipating a hospital stay.

Tell your doctor your concerns about making health decisions—write them down ahead of time so you don’t forget anything. Schedule a wellness visit and partner with your doctor to prioritize any health goals you should focus on. If he advises you to lose weight, change your diet, start exercising, etc., ask him for tips to make these changes.

If your doctor recommends a medication, medical device, or procedure, share any concerns you have about it. Don’t hesitate to share your worries if you’ve heard reports of side effects or risks. You may even want to get a second opinion if you have doubts about the recommendation.

Know your history and risks

To make the best decisions regarding your health, know your personal and family medical history and any health risk factors that may exist. Do you have a family history of any physical or mental health issue? If so, you will probably make health choices in an attempt to prevent these conditions. Risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, or a sedentary lifestyle also need attention. Discuss all of this with your doctor.

Gather information wisely

Sometimes the source of your anxiety over a health decision is the headlines and warnings you encounter. Once again, tell your doctor your fears.

You can also research reports and rumors on your own. Just be sure to find reliable sources—for example, peer-reviewed medical journals, position papers from reputable groups such as the American Medical Association, or news bulletins from a government agency such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whatever you find, look for the author and publisher information—do they have the expertise to present this information? How current is the information? What sources did they rely on?

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, author of Risk in Perspective: Insight and Humor in the Age of Risk Management, also recommends identifying the source of health claims and considering whether the information is based on untested claims and anecdotes or repeated scientific studies.

Also, keep the statistics in perspective. If one out of 100 people suffered an ill effect from a medication that means 99 people did not. Your doctor may have studied the reports and risks at length, so be sure to ask for his or her input.

Trust your instincts—to a point

If you are still overwhelmed by a health decision after talking to your doctor and gathering information, find a calm moment and write down your fears. Then, setting those fears aside for a moment, try to identify what your “gut” is telling you about a particular choice. Perhaps your instinct to avoid a medication, make a dietary change, have surgery, etc. is appropriate. Rather than argue with your doctor about the decision, share your feelings and ask for alternative treatments or health strategies. The same applies if you believe you are having side effects from a medication or other health treatment. Just be sure that fear and anxiety aren’t the true source of your instincts or your side effects.

Talk with loved ones

You can also discuss concerns over health decisions with trusted loved ones. Let those closest to you help you sort through the benefits and risks of various decisions. There are tools that can help you do this together. Consider using the “Ottawa Personal Decision Guide” devised by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Accept uncertainty

At some point, as you wrestle with health choices, it may help if you accept that you cannot control two realities: We will all age, and we will all die. Yes, you want the healthiest, longest life you can achieve. But constant worry over whether to get a vaccination, eat processed foods, use household chemicals, and so on is actually a health risk that needs attention—constant worry is bad for your health! If you find you cannot stop worrying about your health, consider talking to a mental health professional.

You’ve probably seen how health claims shift and change over the years. Partner with your doctor, be informed, and make the best decision that you can at this time. Then rest in the knowledge that you’ve made your best effort.

Resources

Agency for Health Care Research and Quality
www.ahrq.gov

American Medical Association
www.ama-assn.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov

Medline Plus
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/

National Institutes of Health
www.nih.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
www.hhs.gov

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Personal Health Decision Guide
http://decisionaid.ohri.ca/docs/das/OPDG.pdf 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Thompson, Kimberly (2004) "A Consumer's Guide to Taking Charge of Health Information" Health Insight Project; Golonka, Debby "Making Wise Health Decisions" Healthwise, www.healthwise.com, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, "Personal Health Decision Guide http://decisionaid.ohri.ca/docs/das/OPDG.pdf; (2003) "Becoming a Partner in Your Health Care" American Association of Retired Persons; "Share in Every Medical Decision," WebMD, www.webmd.com

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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