In today’s increasingly connected world, we’ve learned there’s a lot more to health than simply avoiding the common cold. From mental wellness checks to routinely practicing self care, people are globally adopting a lifestyle where time is spent healing all aspects of the self.
Yet, it seems the one place dedicated to healing – the doctor’s office – is where you’ll find the biggest disconnect in perceptions about health and wellbeing.
Why aren’t our doctors discussing self care?
Patients Want Doctors Involved in All Aspects of Health
A recent survey found three out of four people haven’t spoken to their physician about self care in at least two years.
But the overwhelming majority – a whopping 72% of those surveyed – wishes that they did. The survey, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Samueli Integrative Health Programs, asked more than 300 physicians and 1,000 adults about their experiences with self care.
Surprisingly, 96% of physicians labeled self care as an “essential” aspect of a patient’s health. But nearly half of doctors said their patients do not seem very interested in self care. That’s in stark difference to the study’s findings on patients, in which 66% of adults wished their doctor would give them more self care guidance.
In fact, 57% of patients say they want to talk to their doctors about what’s important in their lives, and 65% want their physician involved in “all aspects” of their health.
Then Why is Self Care Not a Common Subject?
It’s clear that patients are seeking a fuller relationship with their doctors, where they can discuss their health in a more well-rounded, actionable way. The reason doctors say this relationship isn’t happening? Time.
78% of physicians say there isn’t enough time during appointments to talk about self care. Despite 85% agreeing that a large part of their job is to provide both medical treatments and self-care practices for their patients, physicians report they’re simply working against the clock.
Likewise, although not cited specifically as a barrier, only 4 in 10 doctors say they feel “very comfortable” talking with patients about topics like life goals and what’s important in their lives.
Getting What You Need from Your Doctor’s Appointment
Open and honest communication is a necessary aspect of any effective relationship, and the same is true of any efforts to help patients and physicians engage in self-care practices.
If you’re a part of the majority seeking self care guidance from your physician, don’t be afraid to bring it up at your next appointment.
Let your doctor know at the start of the appointment that you have questions you want to discuss. Come prepared with a list so that you can work effectively within your appointment’s time frame. Likewise, don’t be ashamed to search out a more holistic health provider.
It takes awareness from both the patient and the doctor to incorporate self care into health management, and a doctor who takes a more holistic approach might be right for you.