Majority Of People Hide The Truth From Their Doctors, Says Study

Patient lying to doctor
Image used for representation only.

According to a new study, 60 to 80 per cent of people surveyed have not been forthcoming with their doctors about information that could be relevant to their health.

Apart from half-truth on diet and exercise, more than one-third of respondents didn’t speak up when they disagreed with their doctor’s recommendation. Another common scenario was failing to admit that they didn’t understand their clinician’s instructions.

When respondents explained why they weren’t transparent, most said that they wanted to avoid being judged, and didn’t want to be lectured about how bad certain behaviours were. More than half were simply too embarrassed, to tell the truth.

Senior author Angela Fagerlin, Chair of Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah Health and a research scientist says, “Most people want their doctor to think highly of them.

“They’re worried about being pigeonholed as someone who doesn’t make good decisions,” Fagerlin adds.

The study’s first author Andrea Gurmankin Levy, an Associate professor in Social Sciences at Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut shares, “I’m surprised that such a substantial number of people chose to withhold relatively benign information, and that they would admit to it.

“We also have to consider the interesting limitation that survey participants might have withheld information about what they withheld, which would mean that our study has underestimated how prevalent this phenomenon is.

“If patients are withholding information about what they’re eating, or whether they are taking their medication, it can have significant implications for their health. Especially if they have a chronic illness,” Levy added.

“How providers are communicating in certain situations may cause patients to be hesitant to open up,” Fagerlin says. 

“This raises the question, is there a way to train clinicians to help their patients feel more comfortable?”. After all, a healthy conversation is a two-way street.

We spoke to citizens t understand how many of them like to their doctors and why.

Speaking to a City based Physician, Dr Ruhi Jagtap, she says, “We have encountered this several times where patients are lying to us.

And, with their health complaints, most of the time it is easily predictable that patients are lying.

Compared to the men, women lie the most especially when it is about their stomach issues, sexual habits and problems related to their private parts.

However, things which are visible can easily be addressed, but when it is internal it is hard to understand without knowing the symptoms from patients.

Most of the time, we urge people not to hide things from their doctor, because sometimes it can lead to dangerous situations, Jagtap added.

Our family doctor is a male doctor and I don’t feel comfortable talking to him about my problems, nor I do feel comfortable talking to a gynaecologist, says Fatima Ansari, Interior Designer.

It is odd and you just can’t go to a random person and speak about everything you’re going through, Nor is every doctor nowadays considered to be safe. I look for relative symptoms online and then speak to my doctor, Ansari added.

Neel Pol, Techie says, “It is true that one should not keep secrets from our doctors, but who wants to be judged for not following the rules or not leading a healthy lifestyle.

It is okay to lie once in a while when you know it won’t create further complications.” Moreover, the medical profession has now become like a business and despite telling the truth, some doctors fool you at times, Neel added.


Ankita Malekar

Ankita Malekar

A talkative tiny speck in the world of Media, with an itch for travel and paws.
Ankita Malekar