Smiling female physician talking with mother and young child

Become Engaged in Your Care

Your health and the care you receive is very personal to you. Your health care provider creates a care plan based on your needs and symptoms.

Once you leave the provider’s office or the hospital, it’s important that you follow that plan—whether it’s taking medications, coming back for another appointment, or eating differently.

One of the most powerful ways you can improve your health is by taking an active, engaged role in your care. 

So what does it mean to be “engaged” in your health care? Being engaged in your health simply means being an active participant by:

  • Listening to your provider
  • Making sure you understand what your provider says
  • Asking your provider questions as needed

brief video from Kirsten, a health care patient and advocate, talks about her stroke and recovery and the importance of taking an active role in your care.

Kirsten encourages patients and family members to “find their voice” and be comfortable asking providers questions. She also suggests establishing a network of supporters (care providers, family members, or community groups) where you can ask questions and discuss your care.

Taking an active role in your care is important no matter what your age.

Young adults, who may be accustomed to a parent or caregiver speaking for them or managing their care, are encouraged to learn how to become engaged in their health care.

A brief video from Linda, a health care educator and advocate, provides information about her father’s health and tips for young adults about taking an active role in their care.

Linda advises young people to:

  • Take ownership of your health
  • Be informed
  • Do research
  • Learn about online patient tools
  • Be honest
  • Never stop learning about your care

Tips for Becoming Engaged in Your Care

Seeing the doctor or nurse, or being in the hospital can be very stressful. You may be thinking or worrying about what the provider is saying to you, the impact the care will have on your family or friends, how much the care will cost, how you’re going to get to your next medical appointment, feelings of pain or discomfort, or any number of other things.

Listening, understanding, and asking questions may be very difficult but is very important. Consider:

  1. Taking a friend or family member with you to your health care visit. They can help to listen, ask questions, and support you.
  2. Writing down your questions or concerns before your health care visit and taking them with you. While you’re there, write down important things your provider tells you and any questions you want to ask.
  3. Repeating back what you heard your care provider tell you. It’s an important way to ensure that you have the correct information. 
  4. Asking questions. Ask your care provider as many questions as you need to understand your care. 

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Additional Resources

For more information about taking an active role in your care, speak with your health care provider and review the following additional information:

  • Engage for Health video program
  • Questions Are the Answer videos and brochures from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Ask Me 3 video from the Partnership for Clear Health Communication at the National Patient Safety Foundation
  • Speak Up videos and brochures from The Joint Commission
  • Health information compiled by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine website, MedlinePlus

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