|INTERVIEWING TIP OF THE MONTH
# 39 May 2003
A Simple Question About Meds
TISA Description of the Problem: From the very first meeting, it is important that the patient and the physician feel that they are working as a team to overcome or transform the illness that confronts them. In the following tip by Mark H. Bernstein, M.D. it is obvious from the start that the physician is both interested and, ultimately, dependent upon the patient for insight into both the patient's problems and solutions.
Tip: Instead of immediately suggesting a medication, I find that asking the following simple question often leads into a productive and satisfying discussion about the use of medications, in general, and the patient's views of which medications, in specific, may be of use:
"Do you have a medication in mind that you might want to take?"
TISA Follow-up: Mark's tip may sound unusually simple at first glance, but it reflects a wealth of complexities. It immediately places the patient's opinion where it ought to be - at the forefront of the physician's mind. The patient may have excellent ideas as to which medications may be effective or the patient may have some misinformation about specific medications that can be easily addressed.
The patient's answer may also open the door to an understanding of important interpersonal resources, who may have been the originators of the patient's interest in a particular med. Naturally, it is also very important to be aware of a patient's interests and biases both "for" and "against" a specific med, for these biases many very well be the determining factors as to whether a medication ever leaves the inside of its bottle. As with this example, sometimes the simplest of questions may lead to important insights.
Tip provided by:
Mark H. Bernstein, M.D.