Researchers believe greater interaction between doctors and patients can help improve the quality of care. But studies conducted at WSU Spokane showed that too often patients don’t know what questions they should be asking during medical exams and follow up visits.

To help, an interdisciplinary WSU health care team that included patients as well as medical professionals developed the following list of questions you should consider asking, particularly when being prescribed a new medication.

  1. Why am I taking this medication and what will it do for me?
  2. When and how should I take this medication? With or without food?
  3. What are the most common side effects that I may have with this medication? What can I do to decrease or avoid side effects?
  4. If I have questions about side effects or anything else, who should I contact for more information and advice? What is the best way to reach that person?
  5. Should I make a follow-up appointment to discuss the effect of my new medication? If so, how long should I try the medicine before returning to talk with my health care team about the effect?

Additionally, the research team suggests keeping notes as you begin taking a new medication so that you’ll be able to share potentially important information during follow up visits. Here are some questions patients should be asking themselves as they chart their own progress in the weeks following the start of a new medication:

  1. How are you taking your medication? Describe how you do so.
  2. Do you feel like the medication is working? If not, why not?
  3. Has the medication seemed to create any side effects or had any negative effects on your lifestyle? If so, describe and discuss with your healthcare provider.

Read more about patients joining health care providers in improving care.