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Are People Honest With Their GPs?

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5 Minutes

It’s no secrets that the pressure is high for GPs today, with less resources and more appointments than ever. In fact, 93% of GPs say their heavy workload has negatively affected the care they provide, while 37% describe the workload as ‘unmanageable’.[1]

But what could be making things even harder for GPs is a growing number of patients who struggle to tell them the whole story when it comes to their health. A new study has revealed that many of us, when we make a visit to the doctor’s office, regularly withhold information from our GP.

The findings

The study, published in the JAMA Network Open journal by researchers at the University of Utah Health and Middlesex Community College, found that between 60 and 80% of patients admit to not being honest with their GP.[2]

The results were collected from over 4,500 responders, using two different surveys. In both sets of findings, patients who were younger, female or had long-term poor health were more likely to abstain from the truth.

The main reasons for failing to disclose information included disagreeing with a physician’s advice, not understanding medical instructions and not wanting to disclose relevant health behaviours like a poor diet.

Not wanting to be judged or lectured was the main reason for withholding information, followed by a lack of desire to hear about their unhealthy life choices, and simple embarrassment. Others didn’t want to hear information on their medical record, while some just wanted their GP to like them.

In a statement, senior study author and professor and chair of population health sciences at the University of Utah, Angela Fagerlin, PhD, commented: “Most people want their doctor to think highly of them. They are worried about being pigeonholed as someone who doesn’t make good decisions.”[3]

Why honesty is the best policy

Simply put, withholding information from GPs can make it more difficult for GPs to provide the right care. This can lead to health-related consequences which could have otherwise been avoided.

The most recent NHS GP Patient Survey (August 2018) revealed that more than one in ten patients felt that their mental health needs were not being recognised or understood by their GP. What’s more, over 60% had not had a conversation with their GP during their appointment about what is important to them when it comes to managing their condition.[4] Discussing your health honestly and openly is key to feeling understood and listened to.

Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD, study co-author ad research associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, says that some responsibility also falls onr the GP:

“Perhaps by acknowledging how common it is for patients to withhold information, clinicians may be able to make it easier for patients to share their concerns and acknowledge their less-than-ideal behaviours.”[5]

What else can you do?

Having an open and honest relationship with your GP is vital, and there is no replacement for it. Certain medical concerns will require you to pay your GP a visit and seek their fully-informed, professional opinion on the best course of treatment.

However, online pharmacies such as Express Pharmacy offer the opportunity to seek out safe and effective treatment for NHS-approved pharmacists without having to feel concerned or embarrassed. The benefits of online pharmacies also include increased access, convenience and greater autonomy and accessibility for customers.[6]

We provide medication for a range of health conditions such as erectile dysfunction, acid reflux, hair loss and weight management.

Get in touch today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] GP's Perception of Workload in England, 2017

[2] Levy, A.G., Scherer, A.M., Zikmund-Fisher, B.J. et al. Prevalence of Factors Associated With Patient Nondisclosure of Medically Relevant Information to Clinicians. JAMA 2018 [Accessed January 2019]

[3] Kiefer, J. Why Patients Lie to their Doctors. University of Utah Health. 2018 [Accessed January 2019]

[4] NHS England. GP Patient Survey 2018. August 2018 [Accessed January 2019]

[5] Levy, A.G., Scherer, A.M., Zikmund-Fisher, B.J. et al. Prevalence of Factors Associated With Patient Nondisclosure of Medically Relevant Information to Clinicians. JAMA 2018 [Accessed January 2019]

[6] Desai, C. Online pharmacies: A boon or bane? NCBI. 2016 [Accessed January 2019]

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