Many of us hold back on sharing information with our doctor, but women do so a little bit more. (Photo: Getty Images)
Whether it’s downplaying that after-work glass (or three) of red, or giving the old, “I pretty much quit smoking” excuse, most of us have told a white lie in the exam room at one point or another. It may seem counter-intuitive to lie to your physician since the stakes are so high (it is only your health, people), but in a study with over 2,000 participant from digital health platform ZocDoc, approximately 46% of Americans admitted to lying or omitting important medical information from their doctors.
It turns out that there’s a slight gender gap when it comes to the frequency of lies told to their doctors, with women being the worst offenders. Thirty percent of women admit to having told their doctor a white lie as opposed to only 23 percent of men who admit the same dishonesty.
The reasoning behind their dishonesty turns out to be the fear of embarrassment or judgement from their physician. Additional reasons found in the study included not having enough face time with their doctor (27%), and the doctor not asking any questions that specifically address what’s bothering them (32%).
ZocDoc founder and president Dr. Oliver Kharraz, believes this new statistic is eyeopening for many doctors. “There is a lot of emotion around personal health. But I think many doctors would be surprised to hear they’re getting half-stories often because they haven’t left enough time to ask.”
But if people aren’t comfortable expressing their latest health concern with doctors, who are they being fully honest with? It turns out, pretty much anyone else. About 47% of Americans turn to a loved one to detail their symptoms hoping for advice, while 18% of women would much rather talk to their manicurist or hairstylist about personal medical issues than with their doctor.
Don’t do this. A little white lie may seem innocent, the outcome could be more damaging than you realize. Without the full picture, doctors aren’t always able to make the correct diagnosis, or even diagnose an illness at all. This could leave more serious conditions go undetected, which could ultimately affect the success of a patients treatment later on.
Dr. Keri Peterson, a New York City internist affiliated with ZocDoc, encourages people to write down their symptoms, no matter how embarrassing, before heading into your doctors office so you can explicitly share what’s bothering you. After all, if life has taught us anything, it’s that telling the truth when it truly matters (i.e. the exam room) is absolutely vital to our well-being!
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