5 Things Patients Lie to Their Doctor About

August 21, 2023

Many people think telling a little white lie does not carry significant consequences, but in the area of personal health, skirting the truth to a doctor can have dire consequences. Knowing the areas where patients tend to avoid telling the truth can improve the patient experience, as a little probing for more detail could prevent negative health outcomes in the future.

Common lies told to doctors

As patients tend to lie out of fear, shame, or guilt, doctors who create transparent, trustworthy relationships with patients can encourage more honesty in the exam room about the following topics.

1. Medications

Patients may lie about taking medications, whether prescribed or illicit, especially if the individual has been taking a medication prescribed to another person or has been skipping doses of their prescription. The danger is the potential for negative interactions between medications. Side effects could be more severe or even toxic if some prescriptions are mixed. There is also the danger of dependency when misusing drugs, and as well as risks and effects on the body.

2. Diet

It is important that patients accurately report their dietary habits, particularly when weight-related conditions and medication prescriptions are involved. For those with obesity, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, there are increased risks of heart disease and other conditions that can be more fully addressed with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Being able to talk about the risks and provide alternatives is a part of patient education, but many individuals feel ashamed or targeted when these tough conversations happen.

3. Smoking

Patients tend to skirt the truth when talking about their smoking habits, and it is important for physicians to create a nonjudgmental atmosphere where patients are willing to share their habits. Many times, the individual knows the dangers of the habit but wants to avoid a lecture or feeling condemned. Educating individuals on the increased risks of stroke, heart conditions, and lung disease is better than simply telling them that smoking is a habit that is bad for their health.

4. Alcohol

Talking to a doctor about alcohol intake is another area where patients avoid being honest. However, alcohol consumption can have an effect on the body that leads to unusual symptoms or abnormal test results. The results from lab work can often reveal the accuracy of a patient’s admissions, but it is more ideal to have patients be upfront about how much they are drinking. This allows you to better address their physical and mental health.

5. Exercise

Much like the other lifestyle choices patients lie about, physical activity may not be honestly discussed in the exam room. Physicians need to remind patients that weight is not the only reason to get plenty of exercise, as working out can boost longevity, mental health, cognitive functioning, and a healthier immune system.

Create strong relationships

Though creating relationships with patients is the responsibility of the physician and medical staff, the services of Doctor Genius can make developing these relationships easier. Our knowledgeable team can provide healthcare practice advice on how to fully educate your patients through your website or other aspects of your digital presence. Call us to find out about our customized plans.

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