The doctor-patient relationship is a vital part of treating any condition, especially when it comes to a chronic disease such as osteoarthritis (OA). How comfortable you’re in engaging with your healthcare provider can affect all aspects of your treatment plan. 

Here are some guidelines for what to look for and how to assess your OA doctor.

What to Look for in Your OA Doctor

Research shows that patients are more active in their own healthcare when they have doctors who treat them with respect and fairness, communicate well, and engage with them outside of the office setting. Satisfied patients are also more likely to engage in healthy behaviors such as monitoring blood pressure, exercising five days a week, and adhering to medication regimens.

In addition, your doctor should contain traits, outlined below, that optimize your healthcare treatment.  


For chronic OA, you’ll want to start with an accountable and experienced rheumatologist. Your healthcare team may later feature other specialists, such as a physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, or chiropractor. It’s important to evaluate each of them as well. 


Arthritis research is continuously evolving, and your doctor should be up-to-date on the latest information and treatment techniques. This includes your physical care as well as your financial care: According to the Arthritis Foundation, a good doctor should be willing to handle matters regarding your healthcare insurance. 


You should also feel like your doctor has the time to meet or talk with you. The most accessible doctors today will have several ways to engage with them, including email, text message, or even virtual visits via videoconferencing technology such as FaceTime or Skype. The office staff, such as the nurses, receptionists, and physician’s assistants, should also be competent and treat you with respect.  

Assessing Your OA Doctor

After you have chosen a healthcare provider, it’s important to take the time to assess your care and overall experience. The American Board of Internal Medicine developed a helpful survey that encourages patients to reflect on their relationship with their doctor. This reflection should include everything from whether you feel like your doctor is interested in your needs to whether you believe your doctor is being honest with you.

Besides thinking about your doctor’s role, you should also assess your role in the doctor-patient relationship. Are you being honest when answering questions? Are you asking the right questions and fully engaging in the treatment process? Are you being diligent in following your doctor’s instructions? Remember, it’s a two-way street, and you play an important role in treating your OA.