Why Do People Avoid Medical Care?

There is little in life more important than your health. How we take care of ourselves can be a major factor in how long we live, the quality of our life, and how well we can function on the job.

When we don’t feel well, and are unable to correct the problem ourselves, most of us head for the doctor. However, no matter how badly they may be doing, some people simply refuse to seek medical attention. This seems grossly illogical: in many cases, not getting treatment can lead to the condition worsening and possibly even becoming fatal.

Here are some reasons why some people do not seek medical attention when they should:


Some people have been raised to just tough things out when not feeling well. Consequently, they are less likely to seek help when they are out of sorts.


If you don’t have insurance, medical care can be quite costly. Even the actual doctor’s appointment can be beyond some people’s capacity to pay, let alone prescriptions, and any follow-up.


Compared to women, men overwhelmingly avoid the doctor until a situation arises where they feel genuinely compelled to make an appointment. There are various theories about why, the main being that after entering adulthood, women have regular gynecological visits, while men do not have an equivalent.


Some people claim that they just don’t have time to see a doctor. That may be true, but they really need to make time when their health is the issue.


A select few fear doctors and medical treatment in general. Others may be afraid of what the doctor will say about their current condition (e.g. it might be cancer).  The latter does not make any logical sense; if a condition is potentially quite serious, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Few people look forward to a doctor’s appointment, but whether you are there for an annual check-up or because of nagging problem, it is important to make the most of your time there. Many doctors can only afford 10-15 minutes with a patient, so it is a good idea to know what you wish to communicate and do so as clearly as possible.

Here are some tips on how you can most effectively prepare for your next doctor’s appointment:

List Your Symptoms

Whenever you begin to feel unwell, start to make a detailed list of your symptoms. Also make note of anything else that seems relevant: loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, night sweats, insomnia, when you first started to feel pain and its degree of intensity, etc. Try to include dates and times where appropriate. Having this information can help your doctor not only determine the problem, but also at what stage it is at. That can be crucial for deciding on the right course of action.

Complete Any Pre-Appointment Tests

Doctors will sometimes ask patients to have certain tests done before they come in, as this often aids in the diagnosis. Make sure you have those tests done far enough in advance that the doctor has received the results in time for your appointment.

Do Some Advance Research

It can be helpful to do some online research about your symptoms. This will give you an idea of what the problem might be. However, in the end, your doctor is the professional and he or she will be the one to determine the treatment plan. When researching online, remember also that the people posting are rarely ones who received immediate relief of their symptoms. Your problem is likely not anywhere near as dire as negative online postings might lead you to believe.

Should You Be Able to Record Your Doctor’s Appointment?

Smartphones have made many aspects of people’s lives easier and they are an absolute boon for people whose memories are not so great. More than once, I have just taken a picture of a sign or a list that I need to reference later. Faster and easier than writing things down!

You can easily install dictation apps on your phone that allow you to leave messages to yourself or record conversations. People are also taking advantage of that technology to record their doctor’s appointments.

Some doctors have expressed discomfort with this. In theory, I’m not sure why. If anything, recording a conversation provides better assurance that the patient will follow directions correctly and, thus, benefit more thoroughly from their treatment.

Under Canadian law, it is legal to record someone without their consent, though what you do with that recording can potentially violate someone’s privacy if it is put online. There can be issues of privacy if you record people in the waiting room or near the receptionist as patient names and other information might be mentioned. However,  when you are with your own doctor, only your private information is discussed.

What doctors fear is not the risk of malpractice so much as a lack of trust from their patient. That can create a negative atmosphere. Also, some physicians worry about just where that audio could end up.

On the one hand, if they are not giving out inaccurate advice, there should be nothing to worry about, right? On the other hand, you don’t really want your doctor to be reticent. In order to receive effective treatment, patients should receive a physician’s full advice and that doctor should also not feel any hesitation when it comes to answering questions.

What is your take? Have you ever recorded a doctor’s appointment? Do you think that is your right as a patient? Let me know in the comments.