Many Patients Withhold Information From Clinicians

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Reasons for nondisclosure include not wanting to be judged or lectured, being embarrassed
Reasons for nondisclosure include not wanting to be judged or lectured, being embarrassed

(HealthDay News) -- Many patients intentionally withhold information from clinicians, according to a study published online in JAMA Network Open.

Andrea Gurmankin Levy, PhD, from Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut, and colleagues recruited 2 national nonprobability samples (Amazon's Mechanical Turk [MTurk], 2096 respondents, and Survey Sampling International [SSI], 3011 respondents) to participate in an online survey. The authors examined the frequency of patients failing to disclose to clinicians information relevant to their care.

Overall, 2011 MTurk respondents and 2499 SSI respondents were included in the analyses. The researchers found that 81.1 and 61.4%of MTurk and SSI participants, respectively, avoided disclosing at least one type of information. The most common occurrences were disagreeing with the clinician's recommendation (45.7 and 31.4%, respectively) and not understanding the clinician's instructions (31.8 and 24.3%, respectively). Not wanting to be judged or lectured (81.8 and 64.1%, respectively), not wanting to hear how harmful the behavior is (75.7 and 61.1 %, respectively), and being embarrassed (60.9 and 49.9%, respectively) were the most commonly reported reasons for nondisclosure. In both samples, the likelihood of reporting withholding information was increased for participants who were female, were younger, and had worse self-rated health.

"If patients are withholding information from clinicians as frequently as this research suggests, then clinicians are routinely not receiving the information that they need to provide high-quality care to patients, especially sicker patients," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical insurance industries.


Gurmankin Levy A, Scherer AM, Zikmund-Fisher BJ, et al. Prevalence of and Factors Associated With Patient Nondisclosure of Medically Relevant Information to Clinicians. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7):e185293. DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5293

Elstein AS. Threats to the Validity of the Clinical Interview: Can Anything Be Done? JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7):e185298. DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5298

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