It is important for patients to provide relevant information to the doctor in consultation and to make their own information requirements known. This requires patients to actively participate in the process, something they appear to be reluctant to do. Earlier patient intervention studies have successfully manipulated patient involvement and question asking, although, the latter has tended to be accompanied by increased tension and negative impact. The present study uses a patient education leaflet which uses a wide definition of patient activation. It emphasizes the role of the 'good' patient as a provider of information extending beyond the recitation of symptoms to include insights to interpretation and meaning. Results showed that patients responded positively to the leaflet and a comparison of doctor ratings of communication quality showed the experimental group performed better than the controls. The findings are considered in terms of improved information exchange and the impact of making the 'rules' of consultation explicit is also discussed.