Questions to ask health professionals

It's important to get the best out of appointments with a health professional. You may have waited a long time for this meeting, whether it's with your GP, neurologist, MS nurse or another health professional. It helps to go prepared with questions that you want to ask. That way, you are more likely to get the answers you need.

It might not be possible for them to provide answers for all your questions during the appointment. Think about which topics are most important to you. The health professional may be able to contact you later with more information.

Preparing for your appointments

  • Think about what has happened since your last appointment. Is there anything you would particularly like to discuss? Or receive more information about?
  • Make a list of the questions you want to ask. List these in order of importance in case time runs out.
  • Take a pad of paper with you so that you can make notes.
  • It can be useful to take someone with you who understands your situation and can also listen to what is being said.

Making the best use of your time together

  • Be honest about your symptoms. If you are having a good day when you see your health professional, describe your symptoms on a bad day. Don't forget to tell them how you feel.
  • During the consultation, try not to feel pressurised or rushed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or for something to be repeated, if you do not fully understand. 
  • Note down key points from the discussion to help you remember everything.
  • In some cases, the health professional you are seeing may not be an expert in MS and you may need to be referred on to an MS specialist.
  • Discuss any feelings or concerns about a treatment and the impact it may have on daily life. Check whether there is a leaflet, website or other material, explaining treatments or tests.
  • Feel free to ask for specific reasons why they do not think a treatment or particular course of action is suitable for you. If you wish, you could ask them to refer you for a second opinion. Most will be willing to arrange this.
  • Ask about any follow up appointments that may be necessary.
  • If you feel the appointment was too short or rushed, ask for another one to discuss any questions or concerns further.

Questons you could ask about your symptoms

  • What is causing this symptom? 
  • Will it improve or get worse?
  • Will this symptom stay forever?
  • Are there any treatment options?
  • Are there likely to be any triggers which set it off?
  • What can I do myself to manage this symptom?
  • What shall I do if my symptoms get worse?
  • What would I do if I experience new symptoms?

Questions you could ask about your treatments

  • What are my treatment options - both drugs and non-drug approaches?
  • What are the pros and cons of each option? 
  • Why should I consider taking this particular treatment?
  • How effective is this treatment?
  • Are there any side effects or risks associated with this treatment? If so, what are they?
  • Is there anything that can be done to reduce the impact of side effects or the risks?
  • Does the treatment affect any other treatments I am taking, either for MS or for other health issues?
  • How long will I need treatment for?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • Will the treatment need to be monitored or reviewed and when will this happen?
  • What will happen if I don’t have any treatment?
  • Is there anything I can do to help myself?
  • Where can I go for more information?

Questions you could ask about your tests

  • What are the tests for?
  • Will they hurt, or are there risks involved?
  • Where do I have to go to have these tests?
  • How and when will I get the results?
  • What impact could these tests results have on my treatment options? 

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