Business of Health Care: Patient Honesty

Jun 21, 2019

There’s an old adage about honesty being the best policy. That’s certainly true when it comes to talking to your doctor.  Unfortunately, one recent study found that anywhere from 60% - 80% of patients don't share relevant health information with their clinicians.


The survey asked patients to share the aspects of their lives they failed to tell the truth about, such as exercise habits and whether they take their medications correctly.

The main reason patients withheld information? Fear of being judged. The researcher who led the study found that patients didn't want their healthcare providers to think they were not smart.

They also didn't want to take up more of their healthcare provider's time and didn't want certain information to be in their record.

The study underscores the fact that clinicians sometimes do not have accurate and relevant information from patients, which can affect diagnoses and treatment.

When you withhold significant information from your healthcare providers, you are limiting the quality of care you receive, and it can even have harmful consequences.

Doctors can’t act on what they don’t know. Not mentioning certain symptoms, for example, because of embarrassment or because they are seemingly insignificant could mean the doctor misses bigger issues.

On the flip side, patients with strong communication with their care providers usually report feeling more satisfied with the care they receive.

Remember, your doctor isn’t there to judge you.

Doctors have heard and seen nearly everything. They won’t be surprised, so don’t hold back.

This report, and other episodes, are available at KWBU.org. Business of Health Care is a production of KWBU and Baylor Scott & White Health.