Talking to your doctor

You might think your doctor is too busy or your question is not really that important. Sometimes, you may feel more comfortable asking a nurse your questions. Your doctor or other health-care providers want to make sure they answer all your questions about JIA and its treatment. Having all your questions answered will ensure that you have all the information you need to make informed decisions about your treatment plan.

Talking to doctors or other health care professionals is often hard for most teenagers. For this reason, Dr. John Reiss, a health psychologist in Florida, developed 5 tips to help teenagers feel more comfortable talking with members of their health care team. These tips are described below.

1) Giving information

As a young adult, you are responsible for giving your health-care providers complete and detailed information. It is important to be honest. For example, if you have not taken your medications when you were supposed to, let your doctor know. If possible, let them know why you didn’t follow the plan. The more your health care team knows about you, the better they are able to come up with a treatment plan that works well for you.

You can also use a medical diary to keep track of your symptoms. You can use this diary to help tell your doctor about these symptoms or problems.

In this diary, write down:

• your symptoms and when they occur

• what makes your symptoms better or worse

• how your symptoms affect your day-to-day activities.

2) Listening and learning

As a young adult, you are responsible for listening to and remembering what health-care professionals tell you. Most people can remember only two or three things that doctors tell them, unless they write it down.

• Take your medical diary with you when you visit the doctor.

• Write down the information that you need to remember.

3) Asking questions

Ask the questions you have about your health and keep asking until you understand. Doctors want their patients to have the information they need to be healthy. They are happy when their patients take the time to think about their questions ahead of time, and bring written questions with them to their visits.

• Before your medical visit, write down all of your questions.

• Bring your list of questions to your clinic visit.

• If you have questions that come up during your medical visit, write them down.

• Make sure that your health-care team answers each question on your list.

• If you don’t understand an answer, ask again!

• Repeat the answer using your own words, to make sure that you really understand.

• Some doctors let their patients send questions to them in an email and respond the same way. Ask your doctor if you can send them questions in an email.

4) Deciding what to do next

Play an active role in deciding what needs to be done next. Don’t agree to a plan that you are not willing and able to follow.

5) Do

Do your part! Follow the plan!

In the next section, you will find a series of video clips that will show you how to better communicate with your doctor.


Welcome to the Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program! In this section you will learn what to expect in the program, how to get started and how to set goals to better manage JIA.

JIA stands for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Find out what causes JIA, the different types of JIA and how it will affect you now and in the future.

Diagnosing JIA may be difficult as joint pain and swelling may be a part of many different illnesses. Diagnosis of JIA typically includes a physical exam, blood tests and imaging studies.

Pain, stiffness, and tiredness or fatigue, are common symptoms of JIA. These symptoms can lead to difficulties with participating in school and sports activities, and enjoying time with your friends. Learn about pain, fatigue, and stiffness, how to manage symptoms and how these symptoms can cause stress.

There are several strategies you can use to help you cope with pain, stress, and sleep problems. These include relaxation, distraction, and managing your thoughts. In this section, learn more about how each of these strategies work.

When you know about your medications, you can talk to your doctor about them and make good choices for yourself. Find out about the different types of JIA medications, how they work, common side effects, and the importance of talking to your doctor about your medication plan.

Did you know that there are many other therapies that you can use to manage JIA symptoms? They can help to prevent complications so that you can do all the things you want to do. In this section, learn more about physical, occupational, and psychological therapies; maintaining healthy nutrition; surgical options for JIA, and more.

Your role in making decisions about your treatment plan is very important. Your health-care team and other members of your support system are available to help you make these decisions. In turn, they can help you to manage your JIA.

Whether you have JIA or not, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find out how to stay healthy and active, learn about puberty and relationships, healthy body image, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Sometime between the ages of 18 to 22, you most likely will transition from your pediatric rheumatologist to the adult health care setting. At that time, there are a number of things you, your family, and your health-care team can do to help make this change go smoothly.