Ask your healthcare provider these questions about your preventive care screenings
Preventive care and screenings are some of the most powerful, proactive tools you have to help you stay healthy and catch health problems early. The screenings you need will vary based on several factors—your age, gender, and personal and family health history. These resources outline the range of recommended screenings for men (https://sunlife.co/med64, https://sunlife.co/med65, and https://sunlife.co/med66) and women (https://sunlife.co/med62, https://sunlife.co/med67, and https://sunlife.co/med63) throughout their lifetime. You can use this information as a starting point for a conversation with your primary care provider about what screenings are appropriate for you.
But getting these important preventive care screenings is only the first step. Many people assume that if they don’t hear back from their provider, their results were normal. That may be true in some cases, but you should always review your results with your provider to help you understand what risk factors you’re living with and what steps you can take to manage them and improve your health.
Questions to ask before and after your screenings
At your next wellness visit or annual physical, take the time to learn about the screening tests your provider orders. These questions are a good place to start:
- What is each test for? What information will it provide about my health?
- What does the test involve? Do I need to do any preparation ahead of time, for example, fasting before a blood test?
- Are there any risks associated with any of the tests?
- How will I receive the results and how long will it take to receive them?
When you receive your results, you’ll want to ask another set of questions and have a conversation with your provider about what the results mean, even if the results all fall within the normal range.
- What are the possible underlying causes of my results?
- Are there any factors that could have affected my results, like eating or drinking before a blood glucose test?
- Do I need to undergo additional testing now or is this something we can safely wait and check again in a few months or longer?
- How do the current results compare with my previous ones?
- How accurate are the results for the tests I had? What’s the likelihood that my result could be a false positive or negative? Is there a test that would provide a more definitive result, for example a colonoscopy vs a fecal immunochemical test (FIT)?
- Do the results explain any of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing, for example fatigue or being more thirsty than usual?
- If my results fall outside the normal range, do I need to start medication or some other type of treatment to manage the condition?
- Are there lifestyle changes I could make to improve my results, for example diet changes to address high cholesterol or blood sugar or getting more active to help lower blood pressure?
- Do I need to see a specialist like a cardiologist, endocrinologist, or hematologist?
- Since my results were normal, what should my next steps be to lower my risk of an abnormal result in the future?
- Where can I get a copy of my test results for my personal medical record?
- When should I schedule my next round of screenings?
With this information in hand, you and your provider can build a plan to help you manage your risk factors and treat any conditions you’re diagnosed with. A health advisor or health navigator can be another valuable resource, providing evidence-based information on conditions and treatment options and connecting you with specialists.