The "How to Talk to Your Doctor" community education forums operate under the assumption that information exchange and consumer involvement in healthcare can empower communities in need. We report on the development and preliminary evaluation of this community-based intervention designed to activate and enhance patients' communicative abilities in the medical encounter. We review evidence supporting the feasibility of and benefits that can be expected from improving patients' communication competency. Our intervention is simple and flexible so, therefore, can be portable to a large number of communities. Our preliminary evaluation suggests that the intervention is well-received and produces improved self-perceptions of communication competence across diverse settings and participants. We describe our intervention and its development and dissemination as a model for improving patients' communicative abilities through a community-based, active learner approach. By sharing our experiences, the barriers we encountered, and our ongoing efforts to improve patient communication in the medical encounter, we hope to empower patients to communicate better with their physicians.
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