Many of the 660 primary-care doctors surveyed by Consumer Reports National Research Center said that patients really benefited from a long-term relationship with their doctor. But 37 percent of the doctors said that patients not following advice affected their ability to provide optimal care a lot. Consumer Reports advises patients to ask as many questions as necessary about treatment and to follow instructions. But if the treatment isn't working or you're having side effects, before you do anything else, call your doctor.
Most doctors also said it helped for patients to keep a file of their health records. But in a separate survey of Consumer Reports subscribers, only 25 percent of patients said they actually kept track of their medical history.
When it comes to patients researching medical conditions online, there was another big divide?61 percent of patients thought online research was helpful, but only 8 percent of doctors agreed. Consumer Reports advice: If you want to research health on the Internet, be smart about it. Avoid sites that are sponsored by advertisers or that are trying to guide you to a specific product or treatment.
To get more accurate health information, rather than just searching Google, go to reliable sites such as:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov
Food and Drug Administration for drug information: www.fda.gov
MedlinePlus for information about conditions and diseases: www.medlineplus.gov
National Cancer Institute: www.cancer.gov
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