News Briefs Archive

Why Your Patients Are Probably Lying to You

Dec. 19, 2018

As many as four-out-of-five Americans withhold important information from their doctor that could prove crucial to their health, a new study, reported by Dennis Thompson in Medical Xpress, shows.

Between 60 and 80 percent of people admit they avoid telling their doctor details that could be relevant to their well-being.

“I know at some level this is a ‘no duh,’ of course, people mislead, but I was surprised how pervasive it is,” Senior Researcher Angela Fagerlin, chair of population health sciences at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City., told Thompson. “A lot of people are not fully honest with their provider. They don’t tell them all the information they could tell them.”

The most common thing people don’t tell their doctor is that they don’t agree with the physician’s recommended course of treatment, the researchers found. About 46 percent of people in the younger group, and 31 percent in the older group, said they’d done this.

Second most often, people wouldn’t admit that they didn’t fully understand the instructions a provider gave them. That happened with 32 percent of younger patients and 24 percent of older patients.

After that, patients most often withheld information about personal habits that could be unhealthy—poor diet (24 percent for younger and 20 percent for older patients), not taking medication as prescribed (22 and 18 percent), not exercising (22 percent in both groups), or taking someone else’s prescription medication (14 and 9 percent).

The researchers also asked why patients didn’t tell the whole story, and the No. 1 reason was that they didn’t want the doctor to give them a hard time about their behavior (82 and 64 percent).

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