How to Talk to Your Doctor About Internet Research

With the ease of searching for information on the internet, many patients look up symptoms and treatment options online in addition to consulting with their health care providers. You should discuss with your provider the findings of the article in the implant dentistry journal or the opinions you find in the patient forum. Do not stop taking medication or try a new diet without first asking a doctor for a professional opinion.

Ask Questions Respectfully

Doctors are more likely to answer your questions if you demonstrate respect for their experience and training. Let them know about what you found or read online, and ask them for their opinion.

Most doctors have a limited amount of time scheduled for each appointment. Limit your questions and issues to one or two topics. Let your doctor know that you have additional issues to discuss and ask if you should schedule another appointment.

Consider the Source

Some sites on the internet are more reliable than others. Patient forums rely on personal experience and do not offer the same strength of evidence that a treatment is effective as a double-blind controlled clinical study. Doctors are trained to evaluate the strength of evidence rather than simply take a statement at face value.

Note the Patient Population

Research is conducted on a sample of subjects drawn from a particular population. If the study sample does not represent you, the results may not be generalizable to your situation. This analysis depends on part on the degree to which the treatment or intervention would be impacted by variables such as sex, medical history, and ethnicity. When asking your doctor about a treatment, provide him or her with enough context to know what kinds of patients have praised the treatment on online forums, or what sorts of subjects participated in cited research.

If you choose to research treatments and conditions online, be sure to engage your doctor in a respectful conversation about what you read.

Bradley P. Bolden

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