Sunday, July 29, 2018

Ways to Combat "White Coat Syndrome"

Recently, I read an article the "Sentinel" newspaper written by Vashti Harris about a lecture given by two family practice physicians, Dr. Farrah Fong and Dr. Karen Lin about " White Coat Syndrome".
White Coat Syndrome is an expression for fear of going to the doctor or feelings of anxiety when seeing a doctor.  Up to 20% of the population suffers from this fear.  Many develop this fear as children, who associate going to the doctor with getting vaccinations or other unpleasant things.  Later in life, some people carry over a dislike or distrust of doctors, medical treatments, or body examinations.  There is also fear of diagnosis of a serious illness, and guilt about unhealthy behaviors.  As a result, many people choose the internet over doctors.
Because of the constraints of our healthcare system, doctors are compelled to see many patients in a limited amount of time.  This makes it difficult to build a trusting doctor-patient relationship.  News and internet stories, lawsuits and commercials report about medical errors, along with medication issues and recalls.  This has increased distrust toward the medical community as well.
It is important, according to the doctors lecturing on the topic, to identify exactly what he or she is worried about.  Then one must confront these anxieties and deal with them rationally.  Patients can also find out how they can better control their condition to alleviate feelings of helplessness.  During an appointment, patients should make sure they have their worst concern addressed, and ask for clarification if the don't understand what the doctor is telling them. They should ask for written instructions or resources.  If a patient is afraid or uncomfortable with his or her doctor, they may consider seeking out a new doctor who they could better talk to.  Taking a family member or a close friend to an appointment can often provide support or comfort to the patient.

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