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Florida Matters Preview: Are You A Savvy Health Consumer?

ahrq_psa_any_questions.png
AHRQ.gov

 The last time you felt dizzy or experienced an unusual pain, be honest.  Did you Google it? Or have you ever read a post on Facebook that got you worried about your health?

This week on Florida Matters, we have gathered a panel of experts that discuss how you can be a savvy health consumer. Our panel includes Mary Shedden, editor of WUSF’s Health News Florida; and Dr. Jeffrey K. Riley, a journalism professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

  In a preview of that conversation, we hear a public service announcement that you may remember from a few years back.  It starts with a guy shopping for a new cell phone. He's full of questions at the phone store -- but clams up when he's in his doctor's office.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTo_KS88D1I

CARSON COOPER: So, there’s the summary there, of course the guy asking a ton of questions about his phone, but has nothing to ask his doctor. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – the AHRQ -- there – says we don’t ask enough questions.  Mary, what is it?

MARY SHEDDEN: Well, I definitely think we don’t ask enough questions and we don’t ask the right questions. If you’re an older person, say, baby boomers and up, there’s this reluctance to challenge the authority figure who is your physician. They’re the expert. They should know. Why should you even doubt what they’re recommending? Whereas some people don’t really care enough to ask educated questions, so they’re like, will this hurt me? Yes or no?

And so it’s that understanding how to sift through the information that’s out there, because there is so much information. People are just too overwhelmed to come up with intelligent, educated questions.

COOPER: Well, they may think that the doctor is the best place to sort through all that, and you’re saying that the doctors just don’t have time to sort through that with the patient?

SHEDDEN: No, the physician is your best source. They are medically educated. They know the science behind it. But sometimes they may have…maybe they have an interest in a certain procedure or a drug that they prefer to use because it’s worked anecdotally with others. You need to come in – you are the expert in your body. You know your family history – hopefully. You know what conditions you have that may affect the decisions you are making. You are the only person whose an expert on you, and that’s the information you can share with the doctor in order to make a good decision.

COOPER: Dr. Riley, the April issue of Reader’s Digest had this article called “Doctors Confess: 11 Most Annoying Things You Do” – you being the patient. And one of them was ask too many questions. What about that?

RILEY: That’s particularly interesting. I think that when I look at some of my own research and I look at some of the stuff that I do as far as looking at social networks, it really is interesting in that we look at the comparison of that commercial with the telephone, that people are willing to ask their friends on Facebook perhaps, intense medical questioning, posting and things about medicine to get feedback…but then once they go to the doctor, they are unwilling to ask.

We will feature an in-depth discussion on how to be a savvy health consumer on Florida Matters Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM

Lottie Watts is our Florida Mattersproducer, and she also covers health and health policy for.
Carson Cooper has become a favorite of WUSF listeners as the host of "Morning Edition" on WUSF 89.7 since he took the job in 2000. Carson has worked in Tampa Bay radio for three decades.