Your Medical Health Team with Chronic Illness

If you have a chronic health condition, you will need to work with your doctor to put together a team of support. It can be confusing and overwhelming to figure out what it takes to manage your chronic illness so teamwork is important if your disease or your symptoms worsen and to keep your disease managed.

Members of your medical health team could include various specialists, nurses, a psychiatrist or other mental health therapist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a nutritionist or dietitian, and your primary care doctor.  Each one plays a role in your healthcare, including with medical treatment, emotional health, rehabilitation to take care of yourself and do daily talks, practical support with insurance and managing financial care, diet, and strategies to stay as healthy as possible.

It is important to speak up about any concerns you have about your health and specific condition with your doctor or specialist.  Make sure your doctor is someone you are comfortable with and who respects and listens to you. Take into consideration your travel time, insurance coverage and other factors that affect office visits.

Once you have found the right person to treat you, be prepared to communicate with about the concerns you have and to follow advice he or she gives about your specific condition.  Make sure you are prepared for your appointments by tracking how you have been feeling and keeping an updated list of medications and contact information for other doctors you see.  Ask your doctor about your biggest concerns and speak up, even about issues that are hard to discuss, such as sexual changes, moods and bowel trouble.  Moreover, be concise and clear and don’t be afraid to ask for more information or clarification if you don’t understand something.  Most importantly, let your doctor know if you are feeling hopeless or helpless, are afraid of treatments, have had bad experiences with other providers or are confused by different messages from other members of your health care team.

If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, remember to reach out to a member of your health team.  You are not required to go at it alone and these people are available to support you so don’t hesitate to seek them out.

Find out more about the doctor-patient relationship at:


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