Health / 17.08.2015

3 ways to be more confident with your GP

By Roisin Dervish-O'Kane
Research shows fewer women are checking in with their doc - here's how to make it easier


Ever Googled your symptoms before going to a doctor? For more and more young women, the internet search is their sole source of advice, according to new research.

One in six interviewed by the charity Ovarian Cancer Action admits they have made an appointment with their doctor only to cancel it out of embarrassment.

Not good. But while no internet search can take the place of a sit down with your GP, targeted reserch and a little tech know-how beforehand can help you feel more confident with your GP, and braver about addressing the scary stuff.

Here’s what to search and download to help make those important chats as comfortable and efficient as possible, so you can get the most out of your appointment.

1. Do your research
Do check out your symptoms before, and don’t feel like a crazy hypochondriac for asking the big stuff.

‘If a patient is really worried they have ovarian cancer and have a vague symptom like abdominal bloating, it’s really helpful for the GP to know so we can refer them to have an ultrasound scan straight away,’ explains GP Dr Saul Kaufman.

Don’t mine Google’s depths, download the app for instant information you can trust.

2. Take a mole selfie
If yours are bleeding or itchy, see your doc straight away. If not, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye. ‘To accurately monitor if they are changing, photograph them now, then on your birthday, so you don’t forget, and then once a year,’ says Dr. Kaufman.

Download the app Dr. Mole ( to compare asymmetry, border, colour and diameter of your moles. ‘If they have changed, you know to visit your doctor and if not, it’s a great way to put your mind at rest.’

Read more: Go back to basics for healthy skin 
3. Keep a symptom diary
The best way to manage your condition is to monitor your symptoms, and the Health Mapper app does it securely, backing up your information anonymously. ‘It’s empowering! By keeping note of symptoms patients realise that their actions can have a really beneficial impact on their condition,’ says Dr. Kaufman, who helped develop the app.

Just make sure it’s targeted. ‘Talk to your GP before and decide what symptoms and variables will work for your particular condition. For example if it’s bladder symptoms, track your caffeine and alcohol intake; or for eczema – take note of your stress levels when you get flare ups,’ he suggests.

Concerned about Ovarian Cancer? Download the Ovarian Cancer Action Symptoms App

And one more IRL solution…bring a friend

‘Studies show how little patients remember – especially after a big diagnosis,’ says Kaufman. ‘They might also remember things that you’ve forgotten and offer another perspective.’ Plus, there’s nothing quite like a cajoling hug or hand hold to make you feel 10 times braver about addressing a serious health issue.

How do you make the most out of your GP appointment? Tweet us your tips @healthymag or join in the conversation on our Facebook page.

3 ways to be more confident with your GP
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3 ways to be more confident with your GP
What to search and download to an help you make the most out of the 10-minute GP appointment
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