Take a Health History to your first appointment

health historyHere is one way to get better care from a new doctor: present them with a Health History at your first visit. Every time I have handed my history to a doctor, they have thanked me.

Doctors today have little time to spend with you, but are able to take in a huge amount of information in a very short time. Reading your history can help them form a better overall picture of your health concerns than just listening to you. This way your visit can be very focused and helpful. I don’t know about you, but I tend to forgot something I wanted to talk about by the time the doctor walks into the room. And chronic pain issues are complex and variable. Make sure your typed History is no longer than one double sided sheet ( tweak the margins if you need to, to cram it all in).

Download a Word template that you can modify:
Health History Template for Pain Clients

Here is how to create your Health History:

The health history reads somewhat like a job resume. Begin with the most recent events. First make a list of major stuff– illnesses, surgeries, accidents. Start each one with a date/ at least with the year. This will also help you fill out the office questionnaires more quickly. Then create a history of your chronic pain, attempted treatments, medications and success– yes, do put in what worked. Add one sentence about what you are doing to take care of yourself, for example: swimming, walking the dog, eating well. Add a sentence about anything you feel supports you and your health, for example: stable marriage, secure income, church or spiritual community. Another sentence should summarize BRIEFLY what your current stressors are: lay-offs at work, a parent is sick, limited income on social security, and so on. Finally figure out what you want to address at this particular office visit. This goes at the top of the page under Current Concerns. Issues here need to be addressable in 10 to 15 minutes, so if there are more than two or three, pick the most important one(s) and add an Other Concerns section. Then EDIT your document: condense, shorten, clarify, take out or add. Doctors like things to be as brief as possible.

This is how it might look:


Address, phone, e-mail

Current Concerns

Do I have Diabetes?
new pain… always when I …..

Current Medications: ( add allergies here)
Pain History

If pain is not your most important topic, place this below Health History.

2010 Accident, chiropractic care for 8 weeks, pain medication, still recurrent neck pain, managed with yoga and stretching
1999 … surgery, PT 3 months, pain medication, no pain … currently

Health History

surgeries, major illnesses, pertinent family illnesses

Mental Health History (if applicable)
Current Stressors


Handing the doctor a Health History has been very helpful in my own health care. It shows your doctor that you will be a partner, that you are thoughtful about your condition, and what you already have tried to take care of it. It also helps your doctor when they dictate or write their notes and they like that. I have always received a big thank you when presenting one.