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

What's Important to Know?


  • 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.
  • Have a family member or friend come with you to your appointment to help you, if you wish.
  • Make sure you have the name and telephone number of a person to call if you have a problem.
  • Know your medicines and why you take each one.
  • Gather information about your health problems from your treatment team, the VA library, and websites such as My HealtheVet.


  • 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.
  • Let your provider know the treatment options you prefer.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Ask questions about anything that's not clear to you.


  • Participate in decisions about your health care and treatments with your provider.
  • Ask when and how you will get results of any tests or treatments.
  • Let your team know if you face any obstacles to your care or if your condition changes.


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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Want to Know More?


  • 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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  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.