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Healthwise Self-Care Checklist: Do I Need to Go to the Doctor?


For some minor health problems, you may not be sure whether to seek care, try self-care at home, or wait to see if the problem goes away. You can ask yourself a few questions and use a 4-step process to help you decide what action to take.

How can you make a plan for taking action?

These steps can help you make a plan for taking action.

  1. Observe the problem.
    • When did it start? What are the symptoms?
    • If you have pain, is it a dull ache or stabbing pain? Is it constant, or does it go away and come back? Is it related to certain movements or activities?
    • Measure your vital signs: temperature, pulse, breaths (respiration rate), and blood pressure.
    • Think back:
      • Have you had this problem before?
      • What did you do for it?
      • Have there been any recent changes in your life (such as stress, medicines, food, exercise)?
      • Does anyone else at home or work have these symptoms?
    • How concerned are you about the problem?
  2. Learn more about it.
    • Check the Healthwise Knowledgebase or your provincial health plan's website.
    • What do other articles or books say about the problem?
    • Do you have a helpline or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) you can call? Do you have a primary care doctor you can contact?
    • What advice or opinions have other people (lay or professional) offered to you?
  3. Make an action plan.
    • What do you think is wrong?
    • How soon do you think you need to act?
    • What have you decided to do about it? Do you need to act at all?
  4. Evaluate your progress.
    • Are you getting better or worse?
    • Do you still have any concerns?


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