In my last post I advised people to tell their physicians if they are taking supplements, even if their physicians explicitely advised against doing so. Won't such revelations harm clinician-patient bonds?
Patients taking supplements against medical advice may fear their physicians will develop negative feelings toward them -- anger, disappointment and/or loss of respect.
What patients may not realize is some physicians blame themselves, wondering if they didn't communicate clearly or convincingly enough. Worse, they fear they haven't earned their patients' trust in their professional judgment.
The way I dealt with the issue in my practice was to tell patients, "My job is (1) to make sure that you understand the risks to you and (2) to care for you, whatever you decide to do and whatever happens. This is America; you always have the freedom to choose what you do between office visits."
As I saw it, my patients' decision to take supplements against sound medical advice told me they were at least somewhat skeptical of science. I was confident their use of supplements was motivated by hope of improvement, not by any desire to go against my advice. As far as I could tell, they wanted my approval (that I couldn't give).
Over the years, other patients have shared with me harsh things their physicians said after these patients divulged they were taking supplements. So I understand patients' reluctance to confide the truth.
Next: What's a Healthy Survivor to do?