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Do you take a list of issues to your health appointments? by Kathryn Briant

29 January 2019

Many consumers prepare for a medical appointment by making and taking with them a list of issues, symptoms, concerns, treatments tried, or medical history. This approach helps make sure you remember what you want to tell your doctor or health professional, and remind you of what questions you want to ask.

Lately I have been taking this approach a step further. In the past, I would take my list with me to medical appointments but keep it to myself, checking off the items during the appointment. Now I am taking my written list with me, showing it to my doctor and placing it where we can both see it and refer to it during the consultation.

At first I worried that my doctor might not welcome the sharing of my list. However, the doctors I have done this with seem to really appreciate the approach. For example, they have told me it helps them to:

  • see my priorities for the appointment, and what was important to me,
  • see the range of issues I wanted to address,
  • structure the appointment to meet my needs,
  • ensure that questions I had written down beforehand could be answered during the appointment, and
  • understand where I might need more information about a condition, treatment, medicine or test.


Sharing my list with my doctors has given me a much greater level of satisfaction from my appointments. I have left with more confidence that:

  • my doctor better understands my needs
  • we can share the decision making about my health care – I can be actively involved
  • my doctor can give me the right information and tools I need to consider what to do next, based on my list and our discussion during my appointment

If you have not tried sharing your list with your doctor or health professionals, I encourage you to give it a try!

*Please remember that if you have a long list, you may need to book for a longer appointment with your doctor or health professional!

Some useful resources for preparing for a health care appointment:

Healthdirect have a great article about preparing for a health care appointment to get the most out of it, as well as questions you might ask your doctor to be well informed about any treatments, medicines or tests.


Healthdirect, in conjunction with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, have produced a “Question Builder” which guides you step-by-step in preparing a list of questions to take with you to a medical appointment.


Choosing Wisely Australia have produced a useful fact sheet with tips on communicating with your healthcare provider.

Communicating with your healthcare provider – Choosing wisely

The Better Health Channel has some terrific tips on how to prepare for a health or medical appointment.


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