How Caregivers Can Help

• Put the patient's hat on and anticipate what questions you would want answered.

• Remember that it is difficult to ask questions when you do not know what to ask, especially in the early days of diagnosis and treatment. Please give patients the type of information detailed in the previous sections, even if the questions are not voiced.

"I found asking questions very difficult, not knowing what was important and what was irrelevant. Fortunately the staff and consultants at [the hospital] have always been prepared to listen and have never trivialized any of the questions that I have asked."

• Welcome the presence of a relative or friend at the consultation; two brains can remember more of what has been said.

• Ask any companion whether they have any questions or comments.

• Listen to patient's descriptions of how they have been (beyond "I'm fine"!).

• Lots of questions will occur to the patient after they leave the clinic. Make sure they know how to find answers to these questions, too.

• Patients will differ in their needs and desires to know about their condition. Encourage them to ask.

• Don't be surprised if they ask the same question of several people until the answers make sense to them.

• Be sensitive to the patient's response to your answer and actively seek to clarify it, if that seems appropriate.

• Ask open-ended questions to encourage dialogue.

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