New ZocDoc Study Reveals Women Are More Likely Than Men To Lie To Doctors

Dishonesty in the exam room fueled by embarrassment, too little face time with doctors

Nov 10, 2015, 09:00 ET from ZocDoc

NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to being in the exam room, Americans of all ages – especially women – are not always honest with their doctor about health concerns, according to a new survey released today from digital health platform ZocDoc. The study finds 30 percent of women have told a little white lie or omitted information to their doctor, compared to 23 percent of men, who are more forthcoming and open about their well-being.

The trust barrier for both men and women is fueled by embarrassment and too little face time with doctors. Nearly half (46%) of Americans have 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%) or because the doctor didn't ask any questions or specifically if anything was bothering them (32%).

"As doctors, we expect some patients will withhold information in the exam room. There is a lot of emotion around personal health. But I think many doctors would be surprised to hear they're getting half-stories often because they haven't left enough time to ask," said ZocDoc founder and president Dr. Oliver Kharraz.

In addition to confiding in their doctor, patients are turning to resources close to home.

  • Putting trust in the "family doctor": When feeling unwell, nearly half (47%) of Americans turn to loved ones for advice, telling an immediate family member or significant other about their symptoms. For couples, significant others become a trusted caretaker, particularly for men who are 22 percent more likely than women to turn to a partner first with health concerns (32% vs. 25%). Mom or Dad is the first phone call for more than one-third (36%) of millennials.
  • More honest with casual confiders: When it comes to discussing bad health habits, people are sometimes more comfortable talking with professionals in casual settings like the gym or hair salon. Nearly twice as many women than men (18% vs. 11%) would confess their bad health behaviors to someone like a manicurist or hairstylist over a doctor. This rings even more true among millennials, who are 45 percent more likely than their older counterparts (22% vs. 12%) to confide in a trusted beauty or fitness professional over a doctor.
  • When a doctor's opinion becomes more important: The patient-doctor relationship gets better with age. Thirty-nine percent of 35-44-year-olds go to a doctor first when not feeling well; this increases to 45 percent for the 45-64 cohort and 58 percent for those 65 and older. However, white lies persist – but for different reasons. Sixty-four percent of Americans 65 and older have avoided bringing up an issue with their doctor because they didn't think it was that serious or worth discussing (vs. 49% of 18-64-year-olds).

"In this survey, patients give us hints about how we can better foster trust," said Kharraz. "Doctors can create more opportunities to share information – giving patients the space to reveal their concerns in the exam room or even before the appointment with check-in forms. And patients can take steps to find the right doctor for their needs by reviewing online profiles and other patient reviews."

ZocDoc's free service makes finding the right doctor easy. Patients can search profiles of in-network, neighborhood doctors and see what other real patients have to say, before booking an appointment. They can fill out their paperwork online, so that there's more time in the exam room to discuss concerns, and receive reminders for upcoming appointments and preventive check-ups to help create a regular cadence of personal health discussions with their doctor.

About the Study
The ZocDoc Survey was conducted by Kelton Global among nationally representative Americans ages 18 and over using an e-mail invitation and an online survey. Survey questions were fielded in two parts:

  • May 13 - 26, 2015 to 2,183 nationally representative respondents.  The margin of error for this study is +/- 2.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level
  • September 22September 28, 2015 to 1,021 nationally representative respondents.  The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level

Please note the margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.

About ZocDoc
ZocDoc is the tech company at the beginning of a better healthcare experience. Each month, millions of patients use ZocDoc to find in-network neighborhood doctors, instantly book appointments online, see what other real patients have to say, get reminders for upcoming appointments and preventive check-ups, fill out their paperwork online, and more. With a mission to give power to the patient, ZocDoc's online marketplace delivers the accessible, seamless and simple experience patients expect and deserve. ZocDoc is free for patients and available across the United States via or the ZocDoc app for iPhone and Android.

Media Contact
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