Strategies to help remember and understand the information you receive
If you know in advance that you are making a decision, take someone with you to your appointment: a second set of ears can be useful. However if you don’t have someone to accompany you, or if you didn’t think you would be making a decision, a good thing to do is to check you have understood as you go along.
Communication skills are an important part of health professional training and medical students are taught to ask patients to explain back to them what they have understood. Not all health professionals remember to do this, but it is still ok for you try this strategy.
This is also useful if you have already decided on a course of treatment, so you make sure you know what and when to take medications for example.
But is also important if you are going to go away and think about your decision and the options you have over a few days before making a decision.
Some ways to help with this are available here . Pen and paper are useful. You can either note the answers yourself or ask the doctor or nurse to do that for you. Click on the link and print out a sheet to take with you.
Another way to help you remember important information is to record the conversation you have with the doctor or nurse. This may seem odd, but patients who have tried this have said it is very useful. Ask your doctor if it is ok to do this to help you remember what he or she says and what you decide to do.
This may seem a big deal, but in some situations there is a lot of information flying back and forward and it is a smart solution to a well-known problem. Some doctors’ rooms have built-in facilities, and they can give you a copy on a CD for you to take home.
The other way is to take a recording device, these days most mobile phones have this option.