Aug 27, 2021
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Everybody lies. Why don’t patients tell doctors the whole truth about their health?

What are patients silent about?

Doctors and scientists often raise the question of the patient’s lies. For example, it is believed that the data on the amount of alcohol consumed, which is reported by the patient, should be doubled, and on physical activity, divided by two. Let’s figure out what is known about this.

The insurance company TermLife2Go published data from a survey of 500 people in 2020. It turned out that the doctors were lied to:

  • 46% of respondents – about smoking;
  • 43% – about physical activity;
  • 38% – about alcohol consumption;
  • 29% – about sexual partners.

The main reason for withholding information among the participants in this survey was shyness. But there were others: for example, 33% – mostly women – feared discrimination, 22% believed that the doctor simply would not take them seriously if he found out the truth. One man hid his alcohol abuse because he simply didn’t want to hear a lecture from a doctor. Interfered with honest communication with the doctor and the presence of relatives at the reception.

One review found that between 20% and 77% of patients withheld their use of alternative medicine from doctors. Often this happens because doctors just don’t ask about it, and patients don’t feel like talking about it. However, people also noted that they expected condemnation from specialists, and also believed that they still could not help them.

It is known that patients may not report depression to doctors. This is due to a reluctance to take medications, fear of the appearance of information about depression in the medical record.

A relatively large study published in the JAMA Network Open found that patients often hide their disagreement with the doctor (46%), as well as the fact that they do not understand his instructions (32%). Less commonly, people reported inadequate data about their physical activity, diet, medication, refusal to take medication, and treatment prescribed by another doctor. That is, patients can lie about pretty harmless things.

In total, more than 60% of the respondents hid something from the doctor at least once. The main reasons were unwillingness to listen to complaints and to receive reprimands, as well as, as in the above survey, shyness. Most often, women, young people and people with a low assessment of their health status were deceived by doctors.

“Most people want their doctor to think well of them. They worry about being labeled as people who make bad decisions, ”said study author Angela Fagerlin of the University of Utah.

Why can’t you lie to doctors?

Misconceptions, “juggling” and just forgetting are considered very frequent. Here are some examples of what they can lead to.

Unnecessary treatment

Do you forget to take your prescribed pills but hide it from your doctor? Indeed, admitting it can be awkward. But if the specialists are not satisfied with the result of such treatment, he can increase the dose of the medicine or prescribe additional drugs. Additional drug loading can lead to new undesirable effects. With frank communication, such measures can be dispensed with.

Dangerous drug interactions

People often don’t talk about what medications and supplements they are already taking. These can be pain relievers, vitamins, minerals, and other remedies. They can be relatively safe on their own, but they can interact with new medications that your doctor has prescribed. Potential consequences include headache, liver damage, indigestion, and many others. The doctor must know everything to exclude this.

Alcohol and smoking

Alcohol abuse can lead to changes in blood and urine tests, the appearance of pathological symptoms. If the doctor does not know that the person likes to kiss the bottle, they may make the wrong decisions about treatment. In addition, during hospitalization, alcoholics may develop a withdrawal syndrome, up to “delirium tremens”. An informed physician can take steps to prevent this from happening. Likewise, the doctor may not be effective enough if he does not know that the patient is a smoker.

Thus, the more honestly you answer doctors’ questions, the better your health will be.

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