The following are some simple steps for you to follow when you have a health decision to make. Depending on the decision, the process may take a few minutes, a few hours, or several weeks. Take as much time as you need to make the decision that is right for you.
- What are your choices? Tell your doctor that you want to share in making the decision. Ask your doctor to clearly state the decision that needs to be made and what your choices are.
- Get the facts. Learn all about each option by using resources like the library, your doctor, and reliable Web sites you can trust. Make sure the information you collect is based on sound medical research, not the results of a single study or facts published by a company that will profit by your using its product.
- What do you think? Consider your own needs and values and what you hope for as the best possible outcome. Talk with family members and others who will be affected by your decision. Then sort out the information you've gathered. Make a list of pros and cons as you see them for each option. You may want to share your list with your doctor to make sure you have all the information you need.
- Try on a decision. Write down what you expect will happen if you choose a particular option. Ask your doctor if what you expect is reasonable. Ask again about the side effects, pain, recovery time, cost, or long-term outcomes of that option. Then see if you still feel it's the best choice for you.
- Make an action plan. After you and your doctor have made a decision, find out what you can do to make sure that you will have the best possible outcome. Write down the steps that you need to take next. Think positively about your decision, and do your part to ensure success by following your doctor's advice. Remember, when you share in making a decision, you share the responsibility for the outcome.
For more information, see the topic Smart Decisions: Know Your Options.