Health care providers spend a lot of time observing and talking to their patients. And what they see often extends beyond test results and symptoms. They also observe personality traits that can influence the ways people approach their health care.
"While doctors tailor care to the individual, understanding your own health personality and preferences could help you take a more proactive approach to your health," says Kristopher Carpenter, MD, a primary care physician at Rush Oak Park Hospital.
Students do their homework. They research conditions and treatments before appointments and come prepared with questions. Because they enjoy research, students often know the breadth of treatment options — traditional as well as alternative therapies — and may be more open to using acupuncture, yoga and herbal remedies to address health issues.
Results — like healthy cholesterol numbers — are important to students, so they are more likely to exercise, eat well and follow doctors' orders, Carpenter says.
Tips for students:
Skeptics have little faith in medicine or their doctors. In fact, they’d rather not go to the doctor at all, but an illness or injury sometimes requires it. They have more of an "I can do it myself" approach. When a doctor suggests they take a medicine to address high blood pressure, for instance, they may skip the meds and focus on lifestyle changes like reducing sodium.
Tips for skeptics:
List-makers are health savvy but short on time. To be time-efficient, they save up their questions and concerns for one doctor's visit.
The problem is, time constraints often force them to put off those visits. And when it's finally time to see the doctor, there's plenty of terrain to cover, and important issues like vaccines or family history don't get the deep discussion they deserve.
Tips for list-makers:
When doctors advise them, partners trust the advice because they know it comes from a good place.
"All patients can end up as 'the partner,' " says Carpenter. "In fact, it's the ideal."
Partners work with their clinicians to build trusting, open relationships. They see themselves as active members of their health care team.
"When doctors advise them, partners trust the advice because they know it comes from a good place," Carpenter says.
For some, it takes years of office visits to become a partner. For others, partnerships form quickly after a health crisis like a stroke. But you don't need to wait to be a partner. It can start at your first office visit.
Tips to become a partner:
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