Why We Forget What the Doctor Told Us (and What to Do About It)

Author: Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials
Submitted by: Janice Radway, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Has your mind ever gone blank after leaving your doctor’s office? You may be trying to remember the specific instructions or the answers to your “what if questions” - “What if I don’t feel better after a couple of days?” “What if I miss a dose of my medication?” “What if I feel worse in the middle of the night?”

According to Mary Beth Modic, a clinical nurse specialist in the Office of Advanced Practice at Cleveland Clinic, “stress hinders our ability to listen, to process what we hear and to recall it. Research has shown us that only 50% of the instructions and information provided to patients is accurate and only half of that information is remembered correctly. How well you understand what you and your doctor have discussed is called ‘health literacy’. It is the best predictor of how prepared you feel to manage your illness or recovery at home.”

We as SP Educators can play a vital role in training health professionals to communicate with patients with low health literacy. The Cleveland Clinic is training its patients to better communicate during their doctor visits as well. Read about how patients can prepare themselves here.

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