You know the drill when you visit your doctor: The physician speaks, you listen and nod, perhaps asking a clarifying question along the way. After all, you’re the patient and the doctor is the expert. If you knew all the answers, you wouldn’t be there.
But what happens when, after the doctor finishes speaking, she asks you to repeat back what you just heard? Besides reviving nightmares of being called upon in Mr. Snyder’s middle school science class, it forces you to pay closer attention and you have a deeper understanding of this vital information.
According to a study by University of Florida researchers, you also could have a significantly less chance of being admitted to a hospital or being repeatedly hospitalized.
The researchers examined data from more than 14,000 people with high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease — conditions that can lead to hospital stays if the patient doesn’t manage their care at home. When the patients were asked to repeat care instructions back to their doctor in their own words, the number of hospital admissions fell by 15%.
The study also found nearly a third of the patients said their doctors never asked them to repeat the instructions. Reasons for this could be that doctors feel they are too busy or that they only do this with certain patient populations.
The authors suggest that people initiate the conversations themselves, especially if they are a caregiver for a parent, child or spouse. Better communications leads to better adherence to instructions, and better health outcomes.
Don’t let fear keep you from speaking up. After all, you’re not in Mr. Snyder’s science class anymore.