My Health Counts! Fostering Self-Management

Finding Resources and Support

People can improve their care by learning more about their doctors and their own conditions—asking questions, sharing their medical history, making sure they understand their doctor's recommendations, and taking the necessary steps to feel better sooner.

Knowing when you need help and how to find help is critical when it comes to managing your health. It can be a challenge. Without a detailed map, where do you start?

Your doctor's office is a great place to begin. Talk with your doctor and ask them for suggestions on finding additional resources or information. Don't forget about other members of your healthcare team—nurses, dieticians, insurance specialists—who can help you to.

Oftentimes, one of the first community resources your doctor will suggest are voluntary health organizations, places like the American Diabetes Association or the American Cancer Society. There's a whole branch of these organizations that can provide personalized, one-on-one support for people who have been diagnosed with a particular health condition. Finding what you need may be a simple as looking in the phone book, making some calls or going online. Medline Plus has put together a list of these organizations you can access grouped by health topic or listed in alphabetical order.

The telephone book can lead you to some of those organizations too. Look for “information and referral” in your county or city government listings. Other agencies listed in the phone book like the United Way, the local chapter of AARP and your local senior service agency can also be helpful with referrals.

Hospitals and health care organizations may also offer some services. Call your local hospital, health insurance plan or clinic and ask for the social services department.

Another community resource is the public library. Be sure to enlist the help of the reference librarian to make sure you don't overlook anything. There are also other specialized health libraries. They are oftentimes offered through non-profit organizations or hospitals. Sometimes they will charge a small fee. Use this link from Medline Plus to find a medical library in your area.

You may also want to reach out to support groups, message boards and forums online. Connecting with other patients and sharing with others can be very empowering.

More on finding resources & support on the web:

Next Steps After Your Diagnosis: Finding Information and Support - from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Find Services & Information - from Medline Plus

Interactive Health Tutorials - Find multimedia programs on symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention for over 1600 diseases, health conditions, and wellness issues. The topics are regularly reviewed and updated daily. (From the Patient Education Institute)

Finding Credible, Reliable Health Information Online - Master list of types of resources and links to get you there too. (from Trisha Torrey)