Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice What Your Patient is Thinking

Appointment day—the tip of an iceberg

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 14 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k430
  1. Anya de Iongh, BMJ patient editor
  1. adeiongh{at}

Anya de Iongh gives a snapshot of what a rare appointment with a consultant feels like for the patient, and suggests how to make things better

To you, my appointment might just be another slot in a hectic day. My perspective is different. As a person with long term conditions, my one hospital appointment a year with a consultant is an important event, with a build-up, an aftermath, and a barrage of emotions.

D Day −7: A sheet of paper on my kitchen table is full of questions to ask. I need to cut them down to what can be covered in an appointment—that is, very few of them. The appointment is already dominating conversations in our house. I wonder how often doctors support patients to prepare for appointments like this, perhaps by sharing an agenda.

D Day − 6: I’m worried because I’ve agreed to do something the day after my appointment, but I know I will be wiped out; emotionally, mentally, and physically.

D Day −5: How am I going to …

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