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Communicating successfully with your healthcare team

Everybody communicates differently, and expresses themselves in different ways. It’s what makes us individuals. But when it comes to discussing medical conditions, to ensure you’re getting the best care possible, communication should always be effective and accurately convey what you’re feeling.

So what can you do to make sure that you and your rheumatologist are communicating effectively, and that you’re getting the most out of your appointments and your treatment?

When it comes to discussing your RA treatment with your rheumatologist you should always be open and honest with them about how you are and have been feeling and any concerns you have.

Dr Birrell

Hear Dr Fraser Birrel and RA patient Monica Ronaldson describe the importance of honesty in doctor-patient conversations

“It’s very important for patients to be honest [with me] because if they’re not coping and they’re telling me that they are, how can we [I] help them?”

Dr Fraser Birrell

Dr Fraser Birrell, a rheumatologist who cares for hundreds of people with RA, shares the benefit of his insight with us in his video. He describes the importance of patients being open with their rheumatologist, honest about how they’re really feeling, and stresses the importance of making patients aware that not taking medications, that could potentially help them achieve remission, could have long-term impacts.

His patient, Monica Ronaldson, talks about how being able to talk to Dr. Birrell about different treatment options has enabled her to make informed decisions that suit her.

“The important thing is to be frank about what the problems are, what your goals are, and what the risks and the benefits are.”

Dr Fraser Birrell

“If [they’re] not honest and don’t ring the helpline, or let us know when they’re struggling, then the implication might be that they’re not able to do the things that they should be able to do and it could have long-term consequences.”

Dr Fraser Birrell

Vicky Chamberlain, Rheumatology Nurse Specialist

Rheumatology nurse specialist, Vicky Chamberlain describes the importance of open communication between patients and the people who treat them

RA nurses are a great source of information and support

Your RA nurse is another person you can talk to if you are experiencing problems with your RA or treatment. All RA nurses are specially trained, and may be able to offer you a different perspective. As RA nurse Vicky Chamberlain describes “patients will often talk about concerns about their treatment – whether it’s the side effects; whether they’ve missed a dose; whether they’re not happy with it, and I think it’s really important as nurses to listen to what they’re saying and what their concerns are”.

“You can’t help people or direct them or support them unless you know what it is that’s actually their main cause of concern today.”

RA Nurse Vicky Chamberlain

But again, honesty is important. So no matter whom it is you choose to talk to, make sure you give them the full picture. If you’re unable or unwilling to take your medication, tell them. Then you can look for alternatives together.

“If I wasn’t able to talk so easily to somebody about treatments, I might not have accepted the drugs so readily, I might not have had them explained so well to me and explained the dangers of not taking them.”

Monica Ronaldson, RA patient

The 'RA Unspoken campaign' is a collaborative project between Arthritis Care, Roche Products Ltd. and Chugai Pharma UK Ltd and is aimed at people with rheumatoid arthritis. The project has been initiated and funded by Roche Products Ltd. and Chugai Pharma UK Ltd.

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RCUKCOMM00179f(2) August 2014