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Questions Are The Answer

As a clinician, I am well aware that when patients become more actively involved in their own health, there’s a much stronger likelihood their health outcomes will be better.

That’s why “Questions are the Answer,” a new public education initiative from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), encourages patients to have more effective two-way communication with their doctors and other clinicians.

“Questions are the Answer” features a website — —  providing free educational tools to use with your patients:

– A 7-minute video featuring real-life patients and clinicians who give firsthand accounts on the importance of asking questions and sharing information – this tool is ideal for a patient waiting room area and can be set to run on a continuous loop.

– A brochure, titled Be More Involved in Your Health Care: Tips for Patients,” that offers helpful suggestions to follow before, during and after a medical visit.

– Notepads to help patients prioritize the top three questions they wish to ask during their medical appointment.

Clinicians (at least in the US) can request a free supply of these materials by calling AHRQ at 1-800-358-9295 or sending an email to

Not a bad initiative – appreciate feedback from anyone who has used or looked at these resources.

Edmonton, Alberta


  1. Dear Dr. Sharma,
    I am so pleased to see you highlighting the importance of clear communication between patient and provider! As a health literacy consultant, I recognize that this is a key component to people being able to become better self-managers of their chronic health conditions! I would also like to challenge providers to take more initiative with ensuring good communication within their clinical encounters by using a “teach-back” technique to review concepts discussed. Both patients and providers have important roles in achieving mutual understanding to promote healthier chronic disease outcomes.

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  2. I think the idea of writing things down or taking notes in appointments is particularly helpful, especially in the US where one can often feel a bit rushed as the doctor has so many people to cover in a day. On the Mayo Clinic website when you look up particular diseases and conditions, there is a section for each called “preparing for your appointment”, with information about what type of pre-appointment restrictions or preparation might be necessary, and a list of specific questions to ask in the appointment. My mother prints this page out for herself and family/friends when she goes to medical appointments, and uses it to take notes on. I put a link to an example (“Metabolic syndrome: preparing for your appointment” under my name above.

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