Preparing for Medical Visits

Updated:Apr 22,2014
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Download PACE Sheet (PDF)

Because office visits are short (about 15 minutes), preparing can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. Researchers at Ohio State University developed the PACE Guide Sheet1 to give you an easy way to organize your feelings, questions and concerns before your visit. PACE stands for:

  • P = Provide information about how you feel.
  • A = Ask questions if you don't have enough information.
  • C = Clarify what you hear.
  • E = Express any concerns you may have.

Here's how to use the PACE sheet:

  • A day or two before your doctor visit, answer the questions on the sheet. If you're not having problems or concerns, leave blank spaces on the form.
  • Show the sheet to your doctor at the start of the visit. During the visit, use the sheet to remember what you wanted to discuss with your doctor.

1 Used with permission from Donald J. Cegala, Professor of Communication and Family Medicine, Ohio State University

P.A.C.E. Learn more:

Write down your symptoms, concerns or problems. If you've noticed changes in how you're feeling, make a note of when the change started. 

Use these questions to help you describe your symptoms and concerns:

How you feel

  • Do you have pain (such as chest pain)? If so, where?
  • Is the pain constant, or does it come and go?
  • Is it a sharp pain, a dull ache, tightness, pressure or a burning feeling?
  • When and how often did you notice it? For example, does it happen before or after eating, when you get up in the morning, when you are resting or after physical activity?
  • How long does it last — a few seconds or a few minutes?
  • Does the symptom get worse when you're active? If so, what activities make it worse?

What you do for your symptoms

  • Do you take medicine to make you feel better? What medicine (for example, nitroglycerin for chest pain)? When and how do you take the medicine?
  • Does the medicine help?
  • Do you use other treatments to help you, such as vitamins, over-the-counter medicines, physical therapy, acupuncture or other treatments?
  • Does avoiding certain things, such as specific activities, foods or medicines, help this condition? If so, what are the things that help?
  • Have you seen another doctor about this condition? If so, how was your condition treated?

Your symptoms

  • Do you think your symptoms might be affected by problems, worries or stress? (If so, explain this to your doctor.)
  • Are you concerned that these symptoms could be a sign that your heart condition is getting worse?
How can the doctor help you?

Think about what you hope the doctor can do for you. If you have an idea, you can write it on the PACE sheet. You won't always know exactly what you want your doctor to do for you, so you may leave this section blank.





This content was last reviewed on 04/22/2014.