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What Men and Women Lie to Their Doctor About | NEWS-Line for Physical Therapists & PT Assistants

What Men and Women Lie to Their Doctor About


The TermLife2Go team surveyed 500 people to find out if they’ve ever lied to their doctors, and 23% said they have. Here are some of the white lies, stretched truths, and complete fictions they admit to telling:

46% lied about smoking habits.
43% lied about exercise (or lack thereof).
38% lied about drinking habits.
29% lied about their sexual partners.

These results don’t add up to 100% because some respondents admitted to lying about more than one thing.

Around 14% of Americans smoke, according to the CDC. We found it interesting that nearly that same percentage (a total of 10% of the 500 we surveyed) admitted to lying to their doctors about smoking.

Additionally, more men lied to doctors about alcohol consumption than women (50% men vs. 32% women). Interestingly, men are nearly twice as likely as women to binge drink (23% vs. 13%, respectively), according to the CDC. On the flip side, women were more likely to lie about sexual partners (33% women vs. 21% men).

But why this gender difference? We asked a doctor for his two cents on the matter:
“Our culture sets up certain norms for men and women and patients either consciously or unconsciously try to meet those norms . . . they will tell you what they think you want to hear and they base that off of culture norms. “I try to eat healthy, I exercise daily, I don’t do drugs.” What men and women see as acceptable behavior is different but . . . when you really get to the truth . . . most people are very similar and it is not what culture tells us is normal.” (Dr. Clark Madsen, MD)

We also found that there were differences in the things that patients lied about depending on their age:
Patients 35 and older are more likely to lie about their exercise habits.
Patients 35 and younger are more likely to lie about smoking.
The age group most likely to lie about sexual partners are those 35–44. Perhaps “dirty thirties” are real after all?

So why are people lying to their doctors?

We’ve established that some people embellish with—or lie to—their MD. But why? For three out of four people, it’s to avoid embarrassment. But a quarter do it for other reasons:

31% said they lie to avoid discrimination.

22% said they lie because they don’t think their doctor will take them seriously if they tell the truth.

One man lied about his alcohol consumption to avoid a lecture from his doc.

Forget the physician: One young woman lied because her mother was in the room and she didn’t want her to know about her sexual activity.

Of those that admitted to fibbing to their physician, the group that lied to avoid discrimination was overwhelmingly female (80% female, 20% male).

In general, most people (77% of those we surveyed) are honest with their doctor. But that honesty isn’t always comfortable. In fact, almost half of our survey respondents said they feel uncomfortable talking to their doctors about their sexual activities. One person even said she’s uncomfortable talking with her doctor about almost everything because she just doesn’t trust doctors. On the other hand, 34% said they were comfortable talking with their doctor about anything.

Dr. Madsen prescribed some wisdom to anyone struggling to be forthcoming with their doctor: “It is important to understand that your doctor has no other motives than to help you. We do not work for the government trying to find misdeeds and the only time law enforcement is involved is when the patient is a harm to themselves or others. We have the patient’s best interest at heart and will give you honest and useful information but only if we have accurate data to help us make decisions. Patients need to understand that when they see a doctor they are first and foremost paying for accurate advice. The medications and procedures are secondary. If you aren’t honest with your doctor you have wasted the main benefit of seeing us and the copay you paid to be there.”

Source: TermLife2Go

Photo: TermLife2Go

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