Is it Time to Break Up With Your Doctor?

The argument could be made that a doctor's role is not just to diagnose and treat the physical ailments that plague you but to tend to your psyche as well. Why? Studies show that patients in supportive and encouraging relationships with their doctors fare better healthwise.

How do you know if it's time to change to a new doctor? First, think about how you feel about yourself after seeing your doctor. Do you feel chastised and scolded? That's a red flag. During your visits, is the doctor attentive and caring or neglectful and looking to assign blame? Does your doctor insist that you should be getting better even though you are not healing and are still in pain? Is he or she ignoring your questions and concerns? All are reasons to look for someone new. Of course, doctors are human and may have bad days every so often during which they're less patient than usual, but if there's a pattern of negative behavior, consider making the change.

Yes, it may be difficult to make the decision to leave a doctor you've been seeing regularly. Some health plans have a limited choice of doctors and may discourage you from changing. You may feel intimidated by the doctor and reluctant to break things off. You may worry that you won't find a doctor who's as skilled as the first. These fears are normal, but facing up to them and taking steps to find someone new who will be a true partner in your health is important.

Talk to your friends and family to find out which doctors they're happy with, then make an appointment (or two or three). Pay attention to your comfort level while you're talking with the doctor. Does the doctor explain things clearly? Answer your questions thoughtfully? Are the office hours convenient and is the doctor affiliated with a hospital you trust? Once you sense a connection with a particular practitioner, it's time to officially make the change. It may be hard to do, but the benefits to your mental and physical health will be well worth it.


University of California Riverside,; National Institutes of Health,