It’s a well-known fact that men and women communicate differently, and this carries over into all relationships, including ones with health care providers. A diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming, and there can be a great deal of information to process. Some men may have more difficulty in communicating with doctors for the following reasons:
- More discomfort in discussing health related problems
- Stress can cause men to withdraw and become quiet
- Men don’t like to be told what to do
- Don’t want to waste people’s time by asking questions
Patients are taking a more active role in their health care. We know that outcomes are better when patients are working along with their doctor in making decisions that are best for them. The following are some tips that can be helpful in improving communication:
- Men like to have a clear purpose when they communicate. One technique that is useful and concise is A.R.T – Prepare, Ask, Repeat, Take Action.
- Find a health care provider you feel comfortable with. Lack of trust or dislike in a provider doesn’t allow you to feel comfortable in disclosing important information.
- Make a list of questions and concerns. It’s easy to forget things during times of stress, and maintaining a visual list is helpful.
- Be open and honest about both your emotional and physical health. Too often men don’t want to bother their doctor with their symptoms, especially emotional health and distress.
- Take along a trusted family member or friend. Another set of ears to process the information can be helpful.
- If you don’t understand a treatment, ask questions. Many times providers use language that a patient isn’t familiar with. It’s completely appropriate to clarify something you don’t understand.
- Keep a notebook with appointments, test results, procedures and other important information.
Good communication results in greater satisfaction and compliance in care, and better control of symptoms and disease. Communication is also an important factor in coping with cancer, as it allows a person to gain control during a taxing time.
Continue learning how to communicate with doctors:
- Mastering Medicalese
- Language of Cancer: A mini-dictionary of terms relating to cancer
- Communication skills are very important in all aspects of your life
- Satisfaction with choices for cancer care increases when patients engage in online communications and social media
- Communication in Cancer Care (PDQ®) National Cancer Institute
Still have questions? Call the nurses at the University of Michigan Cancer AnswerLine™. They can help patients or their loved ones find a clinical trial or provide insights into the newest and latest cancer treatments. Feel free to call at 1-800-865-1125 or send an e-mail.
The Cancer AnswerLine™ nurses are experienced in oncology care, including helping patients and their families who have questions about cancer. These registered oncology nurses are available by calling 800-865-1125 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Your call is always free and confidential.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.