ASK - Asking the questions

The ASK of Ask Share Know

graphic of the number 1

What are my options? (One of these options will always be wait and watch)

This question will encourage your doctor or nurse or other health professional to list the options you have upfront, so you have an idea of how many options there are.

There will always be at least 2 options, as one is always "wait and watch".

graphic of the number 2

What are the possible benefits and harms of those options?

This question asks your doctor to give you information about the different outcomes of the options you are considering.

If for example taking a course of antibiotics is an option, the benefits may include a quicker recovery, while the harms may include diarrhoea or nausea and vomiting.

graphic of the number 3

How likely are each of those benefits and harms to happen to me?

This question asks for even more detail about the benefits and harms you now know about. What is the probability that you will experience the benefit or harms of the options?

The answer to this question will take into account things like your medical history, individual risk factors and lifestyle preferences.


Typical decisions in healthcare include, whether to:

  • Have a screening or diagnostic test e.g. a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test or a CT scan
  • Have a surgical procedure e.g. total knee replacement
  • Have a medical procedure e.g. colonoscopy
  • Take medication e.g. antibiotics or betablockers
  • Make a lifestyle change e.g. stop smoking, exercise regularly
  • Start a health self-management program.