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National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

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Be Involved in Your Health Care

Be Involved in Your Health Care

Helpful Tips
More Information
Supporting Information
VA Policies
Source Documents


Key Message for Veterans:

  • Be involved in your health care. There are many ways to take an active role. Work with your health care team to improve your health.

    Patient Handout

Helpful Tips

  • Give your treatment team accurate and complete information about:
    • Your current health problems
    • Your concerns about your health
    • Past illnesses
    • Past hospitalizations
    • Your medicines, including over-the-counter and herbals
    • Other matters related to your health
  • Plan ahead for your visits by writing down the questions and concerns you want to raise. Share them with your provider at the beginning of each visit.
  • Share your ideas and beliefs about your health problems and treatments with your provider.
  • Let your health care team know about stressful aspects of your life that affect your health and ability to manage daily activities.
  • Participate in decisions about your health care and treatments with your provider.
  • Let your provider know the treatment options you prefer.
  • Ask questions about anything that's not clear to you.
  • Speak up if you have any concerns about the care you are receiving or if you think something is wrong.
  • Ask for written information and instructions that you can keep and share with your family or caregiver.
  • Gather information about your health problems from your treatment team, the VA library, and websites such as My HealtheVet.
    • Know your medicines and why you take each one.
    • Ask when and how you will get results of any tests or treatments.
    • Make sure you have the name and telephone number of a person to call if you have a problem.
    • Let your team know if you face any obstacles to your care or if your condition changes.
    • Have a family member or friend come with you to your appointment to help you, if you wish.

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More Information:

* Indicates that the link leads to a non-VA website. The VA is not responsible for the content that is on the site.

If you have questions or interest in making a healthy living change, please see your primary care team at the VA facility in which you receive health care.

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Supporting Information:


  • Veterans Health Education: In VHA, Veteranshealth education encompasses patient education and is defined as "any combination of information, education, and other strategies designed to help Veterans to:
  • Enhance their quality of life through health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Actively partner with their providers and health care teams.
  • Engage needed family and social support systems.
  • Develop self-management and coping skills.
  • Access and appropriately utilize VHA healthcare resources across the continuum of care (access, health promotion and disease prevention, primary care, specialty care, diagnosis, treatment, self-management, inpatient care, rehabilitation and long-term care, and referral to VHA and community resources)."

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VA Policy:

VHA Handbook 1102.04, Veterans Health Education and Information Core Program Requirements

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Source Documents:

  1. Johnson BA, M; Conway, J; Simmons, L; Edgman-Levitan, S; Sodomka, P; Schlucter, J, Ford. Partnering with Patients and Families to Design a Patient- and Family-Centered Health Care System. 2008; April.
  2. Brody DS. The patient's role in clinical decision-making. Ann Intern Med. Nov 1980;93(5):718-722.
  3. Kizer K. Journey of Change II. In: Affairs DoV, ed. Washington, DC: Veterans Health Administration; 1998.
  4. Street RL, Jr., Makoul G, Arora NK, Epstein RM. How does communication heal? Pathways linking clinician-patient communication to health outcomes. Patient Educ Couns. Mar 2009;74(3):295-301.
  5. Epstein RM, Franks P, Shields CG, et al. Patient-centered communication and diagnostic testing. Ann Fam Med. Sep-Oct 2005;3(5):415-421.
  6. Schwartzberg JG, Cowett A, VanGeest J, Wolf MS. Communication techniques for patients with low health literacy: a survey of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. Am J Health Behav. Sep-Oct 2007;31 Suppl 1:S96-104.
  7. Clark NM, Cabana MD, Nan B, et al. The clinician-patient partnership paradigm: outcomes associated with physician communication behavior. Clin Pediatr (Phila). Jan 2008;47(1):49-57.