Thou shalt not hurt mine ego: self-advocacy during doctor’s office visits


      Anyone who has gone to the doctor’s office after doing any sort of research has a chance of being dismissed due to their research, whether doctors believe they are hypochondriacs or seeking medication, it is an all too common occurrence for people to be misunderstood by doctors and treated poorly for a semblance of self-advocacy. 

     “Self-advocacy strategies are useful to make sure your family is understood that your needs are met and that you have understood the information and advice you are being given by your care providers”, according to Sherbourne Health Centre.

     Self-advocacy is indeed an essential practice in the world of medicine, and yet for many people, their research into a disease that is drastically reducing their quality of life is easily brushed off by healthcare providers because of outdated beliefs that still hold strong in the medical fields. 

     A 2016 study about racial bias in pain assessment whose “findings suggest that individuals with at least some medical training hold and may use false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites to inform medical judgments, which may contribute to racial disparities in pain assessment and treatment”, indicates this bias.

     Doctors who harbor outdated views are more likely to make less accurate treatment recommendations and rate black patients’ pain as higher than white patients. 

     In addition to bias against people of color, LGBTQ people suffer from discrimination in healthcare as well, “LGBTQ people often do not fit into the health care systems easily or completely, we often encounter systems that are not designed for us”, according to LGBTQ Parenting Network.

     Common health care self-advocacy techniques including educating yourself about a particular health concern may be dismissed as well, especially when you go to a general practitioner about something that should be referred to a specialist. 

     It is a terrible experience to have a doctor doubt your experiences because the diagnosis criteria for “Can’t Sit Still Syndrome” does not include being unable to sit still, it includes a lack of object permanence, avoiding tasks that require focusing, taking things literally and being unable to infer based off vague directions, all symptoms of the same “Can’t Sit Still Syndrome”, however this time ADHD-I, formerly known as ADD.

     “When doctors routinely doubt your lived experiences, it can affect how you view yourself”. Says Liz Moore, a journalist at Healthline. 

     Doctors tend to focus on what is familiar, as one anonymous Quora user put it “they have a hammer – so every patient looks like a nail”, when the hammer moves, it can easily hit a finger or the board, leaving the patient injured without a diagnosis that could allow them to improve their quality of life, either with referrals to specialists, medication, or modifying current treatment plans.

     Doctors need to listen to their patients, the costs for not listening are much higher than they tend to assume, coupled with outdated perceptions, it is imperative that healthcare providers are transparent with their patients and take the time to listen to them fully because nobody knows a person better than they know themself.