Women often are told their health concerns are nothing to worry about for various reasons – be they part of being female, part of menopause or in their head – regardless of race, ethnicity or perimenopausal stage. Studies also reveal that black women tend to be dismissed even more quickly by others than other races; yet only you truly know your body, so any signs that something’s amiss need to be taken seriously by health providers.

Your healthcare team should work in concert for your care. Even though asking follow-up questions or seeking additional details may feel awkward at times, your HCP should remain supportive and provide all of the answers that are necessary.

Here are five strategies you should try if your healthcare provider isn’t listening:

1. Work With Your Provider

Just as an HCP needs your expertise on their condition to manage it effectively, so they require your knowledge about yourself and experiences as well. Let them know how you are feeling both physically and emotionally so they can provide appropriate care.

Simply express what’s bothering you by telling someone: “I’m feeling worried” or “something doesn’t feel right to me”, etc.

Invite your healthcare provider (HCP) into the partnership by inviting them into their thought process. Ask what may be causing your symptoms; and if certain potential diagnoses were excluded from consideration, ask why.

Ask: Have we done all the tests recommended to diagnose this condition?” If not, they may have good explanation for why not and you have every right to inquire further into that possibility.

If your healthcare provider (HCP) is suggesting treatments that don’t seem to work, they may give it more time before suggesting alternatives. You could discuss alternatives with them by saying, “This doesn’t appear to be working; what are my next steps?”

If your HCP appears unsure of their next move or is out of ideas or options, asking whether scientific literature or clinical guidelines might provide any new ideas can help bring some clarity. Even if no solutions come from this questioning process, at least asking may make them understand how serious you are in what they do.

2.Preparing for HCP appointments

will enable you to set the agenda and ensure that your concerns have a greater chance of being addressed.

Be as specific and detailed as possible when writing down symptoms and their severity or what might trigger them, to provide as accurate a picture as possible of what’s going on for you and when. Your HCP may want you to share or bring this written record with them during appointments for reference.

Create a list of questions to ask your HCP; prioritize them according to importance and start by discussing those most pressing. If time limits prevent answering everything on this visit, arrange for follow-up calls or visits later.

Armed with facts, details and questions about your needs and experiences, you’ll be in a better position to convey them clearly to your healthcare provider. The more specific you can be when discussing them, the harder it will be for him/her to dismiss you as invalid.

3. Be Direct

If you don’t feel your HCP is listening or taking you seriously, speak up. Let them know how you are feeling; for instance: “I don’t feel heard now” or “You aren’t taking my concerns seriously”. Or take a more indirect approach and say: “I may not have adequately conveyed the seriousness of my concerns – let me try again”.

4. Request More Time
If you don’t feel heard or you feel rushed out of an exam room, take the opportunity to ask for additional time before leaving. For example: “I didn’t get all of my concerns addressed; can we schedule additional time?” Or acknowledge how full your HCP’s schedule likely is by saying, “I know you must be busy; can there be a time we could connect by phone or meet in person where more can be discussed?”

5. Enlist an Ally or Advocate
It can be helpful to bring someone with you to appointments in order to provide additional eyes, ears and voices on your behalf – and act as an authorized representative with your HCP’s office. Alternatively, you could hire an independent advocate privately who could attend visits with you or represent your case when meeting with HCPs – although if that option is beyond your means then check local nonprofits that specialize in advocacy for people living with your condition as they may also offer help.

If none of these strategies have worked for you, it may be time to switch healthcare practitioners (HCPs). If this option is unavailable to you, consider seeking second opinions or seeing another HCP within your practice instead. When making choices of HCPs, read reviews and treat your first visit like an interview; pay attention to how comfortable, respected, or heard you feel communicating with them – if not, continue looking.


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