How patients can help us be even better doctors - educational leaflet "Before I go to the doctor"

Klin Onkol. 2023 Winter;37(4):307-313.


Background: Medical psychology research shows that how a patient communicates appears to be the strongest predictor of physician behavior during a consultation and that patient's activity also influences how much information a physician communicates to a patient about his or her illness and treatment. Thus, being a patient is a skill that needs to be developed to balance the responsibilities of doctors and patients in each of their encounters. There is a lack of clear recommendations and education in this area, and patients' behaviour is instead governed by the etiquette of courtesy.

Purpose: The main aim of this article is to create a list of recommendations for patients and physicians to develop the skill of a competent patient in mutual communication and to include these recommendations into an educational leaflet with the aim to support the diagnostic and therapeutic process and personalized care.

Material and methods: Literature sources were selected unsystematically for the purpose of a narrative review, guided by the question: "What patient skills and competencies promote effective communication with the physician?" We adopted the snowball method, sometimes referred to as chain or reference selection, to generate the list.

Results: The results of the current narrative review demonstrate that the topic of patient communication competencies interests researchers and clinicians across medical disciplines. A summary of patient competencies was developed into an educational handout entitled "Before I go to the doctor". The leaflet can be freely distributed in a printed form, as presented in the article, or patients can be referred to its electronic version (via QR code on the leaflet or on the website of the Department of Medical Psychology and Psychosomatics of the Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, in the educational materials section at https: // The educational leaflet can be used as educational material in any healthcare facility.

Conclusion: Being a competent patient is an ideal state that we strive for from the position of patients and physicians in order to develop medicine more symmetrically, in partnership and with an optimal distribution of responsibility for health, illness and treatment. The information leaflet is one of the possible and fundamental interventions to develop the skill of competent communication on the part of the patient. It is the most commonly used communication channel in patient education. The current list of recommendations is not definitive and binding. However, it opens up the topic itself. It names the dimensions of doctor-patient communication and gives both parties the opportunity to consider what their relationship should be like, what is missing in this relationship, and what is important to both parties.

Keywords: communication skills; competent patient; patient-centered care; responsibility in communication.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians*
  • Psychotherapy