Going to the doctor seems to spark an innate desire to embellish or conceal one’s health and medical history.
Seventy-seven percent of participants in a survey of more than a thousand patients said they had lied to their doctor about some aspect of their health.
Some generations are known to develop the habit of lying more frequently than others.
Most of those who lied to doctors were members of Generation Z (93%), often regarding their sexual orientation.
Doctor Eric Ascher, a family practitioner at Lenox Hill Hospital, told Healthline that members of Generation Z are “very anxious” about seeing the doctor because they are afraid of being judged.
The following people came next in the dishonesty rankings:
- Teenagers (24%)
- Gen X (75%)
- Generation Xers (31%)
Intriguingly, the kinds of lies spoken by each generation have changed.
It was shown that millennials were the most inclined to embellish their workout routine. Ascher hypothesized that this could be because the millennial generation came of age alongside the rise of the fitness center.
Aside from its physical benefits, working exercise has become a social norm. He said everyone worries about their weight, but this group is more self-conscious.
Baby Boomers were the most likely to exaggerate their caloric intake. On the other hand, Generation Xers were more likely to exaggerate their alcohol usage.
According to Chicago-based nurse practitioner Melissa Murphey, DNP, APRN, some of this is due to people underestimating or ballparking their intake to avoid having awkward conversations.
To what end do people exaggerate their health?
Respondents who lied to healthcare providers most often cited concerns about being judged. Aside from that, there were other reasons:
- Bias from a doctor or other medical professional.
- Inability to face reality due to denial and avoidance
- Insurance-related stress
Ascher was not surprised by this set of explanations.
Once patients and doctors develop trust in one another, “they get embarrassed or often wait until the end of the visit or the next visit to speak up,” he said.
Indeed, Murphey concurred. She emphasized establishing trust between doctor and patient before sharing any sensitive information.
Yet, it’s disheartening that people would endanger their health for something like this. All healthcare providers must make every effort to put patients at ease swiftly.
When asked about their experiences with healthcare providers, 64% of the 23% of patients who reported being honest indicated they didn’t always feel heard.
You are probably not the right provider if you don’t feel like you’re being heard. Ascher emphasized the importance of a patient’s feeling listened to and at ease during a doctor’s visit.
Since telehealth consultations are less likely to be observed, more fibs can be told.
Telehealth patients were the most likely to lie to their doctors in any environment.
Many times throughout the epidemic, people sought out telemedicine when they required immediate attention or met a provider for the first time. “It’s likely the patient and provider didn’t connect, which is why the patient lied,” Ascher said. Since we have already established rapport, I highly doubt that my telehealth patients who come back to see me will fabricate information.
Murphey said that home visits should remain an option. It is because of the convenience telemedicine provides. Otherwise, they would not be able to see a doctor due to a lack of transportation or other practical barriers. In-person consultations with a doctor, however, are recommended whenever possible.
She explained that patients might feel less emotionally invested in the treatment because of the physical barrier between them and the doctor.
Patients should try to regard telehealth appointments as they would in-person visits, while doctors should be extra careful to establish a genuine rapport with each patient they communicate with.
To treat their patients, doctors ask inquiries, not pass judgment.
Ascher said that patients don’t appreciate being “parented” by their doctor about matters of knowledge they already possess during office visits. He gave examples of drinking too much and not getting enough exercise as reasons why he needs to inquire about such behaviors from his patients.
If a patient comes in complaining of acid reflux but has cut back on their alcohol usage, he may not be able to provide them with the appropriate counseling or testing.
He may not be able to help if you tell him you’re upset or having difficulties focusing or sleeping but cut back on your alcohol usage.
Although it may seem like we ask many questions on the first visit, Dr. Ascher assures new patients that she is not being nosy or invasive to ensure that she provides the care necessary to maintain their health.
Ascher reassured patients that their healthcare practitioners had heard and seen everything. They would not judge them for their hesitation to disclose personal information. TMI refers to nothing. We came into this with preparation. “A competent doctor will modify their care for you so that you feel like you’re being heard and respected,” he said.
He continued, you have the right to choose which medical professional you see. Some patients cannot express their true feelings and thoughts to their healthcare practitioner without fear of judgment. It is a sign that the doctor-patient relationship is not functioning correctly.
Finding a reliable primary care physician might be like going on a date. It’s essential to find someone you click with,” Ascher advised.