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How to advocate for yourself in the health system

Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for yourself and the things that are important to you. It is very important to advocate for yourself in health care so that you can get the health care that is right for you. Some examples of self-advocacy are:

  • Asking for a second opinion,
  • Asking questions about a test or procedure,
  • Taking time to think before making your medical decisions.

Some things that can help your self-advocacy are:

Read more about self-advocacy on the Canberra Health Literacy website.


Asking questions about your health care

It is important to ask questions about your health care. You could have questions about diseases or conditions, medications, or treatments. You might find it helpful to take a list of questions when you visit your health professional.

Healthdirect has a Question Builder that allows you to select questions for you to ask your doctor. You can print your list of questions from the website.

Choosing Wisely has a list of 5 questions to ask your doctor or other health care provider before you get any test, treatment, or procedure. They are:

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
  2. What are the risks?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I don’t do anything?
  5. What are the costs?

They also have a page with useful tips on how to communicate with your health care provider.

Ask Me 3® is a program that tells you to ask 3 simple questions to help you understand your health conditions and stay healthy. They are:

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?

You can read more about the Ask Me 3® program and download translated resources from the Institute for Health Care Improvement.

Read more about asking good questions on the Canberra Health Literacy website.

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