A guide to a second medical opinion & why they matter

23 Aug 2021

How many car dealers did you visit before you bought your car? How many bridal boutiques did you visit before finding the ‘perfect’ dress?

How about that quote for the new curtains in the bedroom, or perhaps your kitchen renovation, did you get multiple quotes and review online ratings?

When it comes to your finances, your home, your belongings, it’s common to do your research, join Facebook groups, ask friends and feel as though you’re getting the best advice. So, when it comes to our health, why are we always so quick to go with the first opinion we’re given?

Getting a second opinion does not necessarily mean you don’t agree with your diagnosing physician, nor do you have to disagree with their recommended treatment, so why get one in the first place?

Why seek a second opinion?
Whether you’re unsure of the diagnosis and treatment recommendations being given, or simply don’t like the way in which they were communicated to you by the doctor, asking for a second opinion is never a bad thing!

Establishing a good rapport with your doctor not only builds trust but also enables clearer communication channels so that, as the CEO of your own health, you can feel as though you are in the front seat, steering, whilst getting the best possible advice and directions from your support crew, AKA your medical team and family.

Tips for getting a second opinion
Whilst everyone’s journey is different, there are some steps you can follow to make the process of seeking an opinion a little easier:

  1. Let your health team know upfront. This will help to preserve your longer-term relationship with them and help the transition of any information that may need to be shared between teams.
  2. Be clear in your mind about what reason you need a second opinion for. Is a second opinion going to help you to plan for a current diagnosis or treatment plan, or are you looking to establish a whole new healthcare pathway? Is it because you disagree with the current recommendations and want confirmation, or simply because the rapport wasn’t there?
  3. Be open with the new health professional as to why you are seeking a second opinion. This will help them to focus their attention on the area of care that you are most concerned about. Whilst there is limited studies around the real-life benefits of second opinions, it is realistic to assume that you will be more satisfied if you are able to develop a stronger communication style and rapport with your clinician.
  4. Second opinions may lead to more time, effort and possibly money. The reality is, you may need to travel in order to see another specialist, or wait on their list if they’re all booked up. If time isn’t on your side, it’s important to understand the reasons you are seeking a second opinion in the first place to ensure you are not only taking care of your health now, but also ensuring the best possible outcome for yourself long-term.
  5. Don’t consider Dr Google to be a second opinion. The internet is a plethora of mis-information and blogs written by self-proclaimed “experts”, but the reality is, you need to stick to reliable, trustworthy sites in order to get information, and keep in mind that every situation is unique – there is no one size fits all approach to healthcare.
  6. Speak to others on the same journey. By using Pink Hope’s online support groups, you can easily connect with hundreds of women via your smartphone, who are either on, or have been on a similar journey to you. They can share their words of wisdom, experiences with doctors and ensure you understand what you can expect if you select a particular treatment or practitioner.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, as women, we are often quick to doubt ourselves and our decisions because of the paternal medical system in which we are raised. If your gut is telling you that the doctor you have seen doesn’t feel right for you, your situation or for managing your treatment, it is pivotal to your peace of mind that you seek a second opinion. Even if you end up back at the original doctor, the opportunity to connect with another practitioner whom you put your full faith and trust in, will go a long way in creating a smoother journey on what can often be a difficult road.

This article was sponsored by Astra Zeneca and developed independently by the team at Pink Hope in consultation with medical experts.