News Release

Thursday, July 26, 2007

NIHSeniorHealth Offers Tips on How to Talk with Your Doctor

How do you talk about a sensitive subject with your doctor? What if you forget to ask an important question? What if you feel rushed during your visit? How can you get the most out of your visit with your health care provider? Being able to communicate openly, comfortably and assertively with your doctor can help you make good health decisions and stay well. But some older people shy away from this approach and hesitate to ask questions or take the doctor’s time.

The best patient-doctor relationships are more of a partnership, with both sides taking responsibility for good communication. To guide older patients in speaking with their doctors, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers Talking with Your Doctor, a newly released topic on, a Web site developed by NIH with the needs of older people in mind. The Web site is a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which are components of the NIH.

“Most people know that communicating with their doctor is important to their health care, especially as they age and are more likely to have health conditions and treatments to discuss,” says Judith A. Salerno, M.D., NIA deputy director. “The key is to know how to have that conversation.”

Older adults can turn to this newest feature on the NIHSeniorHealth Web site for information on managing conversations with their doctor. How to prepare for a doctor visit, what to ask, what information to provide, and how to understand what the doctor says are among the many helpful tips older adults can find on the site.

One of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, older Americans increasingly turn to the World Wide Web for health information. In fact, 68 percent of wired seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online. is based on the latest research on cognition and aging. It features short, easy-to-read segments of information that can be accessed in a variety of formats, including various large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos and an audio version. The site also links to MedlinePlus (, the National Library of Medicine’s premier, more detailed site for consumer health information.

NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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