Feature Archive

WebMD Survey: The Lies We Tell Our Doctors

45% of WebMD Readers Don't Tell Their Doctors the (Whole) Truth

By Daniel DeNoon
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Sept. 21, 2004 -- Do you lie to your doctor? There's about a 50-50 chance you do, a WebMD survey shows.

See what the experts say in part 2 of our three-part series.

What the Experts Say

WebMD discussed the survey results with three experts:

  • Ethicist Arthur Caplan, PhD, chair of the department of medical ethics and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
  • Psychiatrist and ethicist Robert Klitzman, MD, who is assistant clinical professor and co-director of the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University, in New York. He's an expert in issues of privacy and disclosure of medical information. Among other titles, Klitzman is author of Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS.
  • David L. Roberts, MD, who is associate professor of internal medicine at Emory University, in Atlanta, and medical director of the Emory executive health program.

WebMD: Is there ever a good reason to lie to your doctor?

Caplan: "There are reasons why it might make sense to lie to your doctor, even though it may hurt your medical care. The model in our mind of who looks at our records is outmoded. We really don't have as much privacy as we like to believe we do, and patients tend to know that.