A white lie every now and then can’t hurt you – at least that’s what we like to believe. But according to recent research, there’s at least one situation in which you should always speak the truth, even if it might earn you a scolding.
The research found that as many as one in three women and 23 per cent of men admitted to lying to their doctors, or leaving out important information about their health and habits.
We are most likely to tell porkies about smoking, diet and exercise, the study by digital health platform ZocDoc found, however Dr Liz Marles from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says people are also reluctant to discuss more intimate details of their health, such as incontinence or anxiety.
So why do we do this?
In some cases it’s embarrassment, in others it’s not wanting to let your doctor down, or get into “trouble”.
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Nearly half of all people surveyed avoided telling their doctor about a health issue because they were embarrassed or afraid of being judged. Around a third say they withheld details because they couldn’t find the right opportunity or didn’t have enough time during the appointment (27 per cent) or because the doctor didn’t ask any questions or specifically if anything was bothering them (32 per cent).
“Sometimes patients don’t want to disappoint their doctor – they know what they’re meant to be doing but haven’t done it,” Dr Marles told The New Daily.
She added that some people would hold back important information when faced with a doctor they didn’t know, and that time pressures in clinics don’t provide the right environment for broaching difficult matters.
“In some instances if people find that they’ve been squeezed in and the doctor is already running late, they might not want to raise something that they feel very vulnerable about in that context,” says Dr Marles.
Interestingly, while we may be reluctant to talk to our doctors about our bad habits, the survey found women often have no problems recounting them to their family, friends, even relative strangers like hairdressers and manicurists.
Do you find yourself leaving out important bits of information, or even telling white lies to your doctor? Why do you think we do this?