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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care

Explore Your Treatment Options: Why Explore Your Options

Two women at a computer.

Going to the doctor can be stressful, especially if you are sick or worried.

You may also think that being a “good” patient means doing what your doctor tells you.

But the truth is, staying quiet is not a good idea. By asking questions and understanding your treatment options, you can share in making decisions with your doctor and receive the best possible care.

What is a treatment option, anyway?

A treatment option is a medicine or therapy to treat your problem. A treatment option may be a pill, a shot, exercise, or an operation. It could even be a combination of things.

The process of fully exploring your options starts with asking your doctor questions about your diagnosis or condition. The next step is a full discussion about the available treatments—including the concerns you have about options and which options might be best for you.

It may seem okay to follow the first treatment your doctor suggests and then wait to see if it works. But if you take the time to talk to your doctor about all your treatment options, you may find one that works better for you.

How can knowing your treatment options improve your life?

You might feel better—not only about your health problem but also about your treatment choice and your part in decisionmaking. Telling your doctor what is important to you can help you find the best medical care and improve your quality of life.

Talking about treatment options may help you find:

  • A treatment or medical test that could work best for you.
  • A treatment with fewer side effects.
  • A treatment that’s better for your budget.  
  • Better control over your health care.

Some people feel nervous about asking their doctor questions. Remember: You know more about your body, your health, and what’s important to you than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Need help getting started? We have tips to help you talk about treatment options with your doctor.

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