Doctors say many of their patients are doctoring the truth

A lot of folks may be harming themselves by being less than honest with their physicians. Almost a quarter of folks surveyed recently admit that they lie at the doctor's office.

Dr. Benjamin Springgate, Chief of Community and Population Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans, says it's not unusual. In fact, it's normal.

"There are things that people are embarrassed to talk to their doctors about. And. it makes sense that they might want to hide something orstretch the truth a little bit so they don't have to feel embarrassment

According to the survey by TermLife2Go, 23 percent of patients aren't totally forthcoming about different aspects of their health. What arethe most common lies told in the doctor's office?

"People often time are embarrassed about things like smoking or drinking, exercise, eating or sexual activities," says Springgate.

And the survey backs him up.

46% lied about smoking habits.43% lied about exercise (or lack thereof).38% lied about drinking habits.29% lied about their sexual partners.(You may notice these don’t add up to 100%. That’s because some participants lied about multiple topics!)

Despite doctor-patient confidentiality laws, a lot of folks just don't feel comfortable telling the truth to their doctors, so physicians are hearing lots of fibs.50 percent of patients said they feel uncomfortable talking to their doctors about sexual relations.

But, Dr. Springgate says communication between doctors and patients is vital to the treatments and care patients. Plus, he says, doctors haveheard it all, so there's no need for embarrassment.

"So, it doesn't have to be a source of worry or concern or embarrassment for you. It's really an opportunity for you to just let me know what's happening. And, by normalizing it, I think that can really help people feel more comfortable talking to their doctors.

"Really the concern is not so much about whether or not someone tells a fib as...is there an opportunity for us to help the patient feelmore comfortable so that we can really be their ally in improving their health," Springgate says.

Interestingly, more men lied to doctors about alcohol consumption than women (50% men vs. 32% women). On the flip side, women were morelikely to lie about sexual partners (33% women vs. 21% men).

Patients 35 years or older are more likely to lie about their exercise habits while patients younger are more likely to lie about smoking.

"It's normal for people to feel like they want to try to shine a positive light on themselves in front of a doctor,"  says Springgate.

'But, really the hope is that people will recognize that the doctor is there to be supportive of them."