How Honest Are You with Your Provider?


Do you always tell your provider the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? If you’re like most Americans, you probably don’t.

Four out of five people withhold important information from their healthcare provider, according to a recent study. That’s a problem because omitting key health details could actually harm your health.

“A provider’s job is to give the best counsel to patients on maintaining health, managing symptoms, and treating disease,” says Rachel VanDenBrink, D.O., a family practice provider at the AGH's Allegan Medical Clinic. “With in correct or missing information, that job is harder, if not impossible.”

Why Lie?
There are a variety of reasons why patients leave out information. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Not wanting to be judged or lectured
  • Not wanting to hear how harmful a behavior is
  • Feeling embarrassed to admit something
  • Not wanting the provider to think that you’re a difficult patient
  • Not wanting to take up more of the provider’s time
  • Feeling like the information isn’t relevant
  • Not wanting the information to appear on your medical record
  • Not wanting to make a difficult life-style change that the provider might recommend

“I encourage my patients to tell me any health-related information, no matter how irrelevant it may seem,” says Dr. VanDenBrink. “Decisions I make are based on what I know and don't know, so things left out can have costly, timely, and potentially harmful effects.”

Working Together for Your Well-Being
Both providers and patients play a role in making sure that patients disclose as much information as possible. After asking a question—especially about sensitive topics—providers should wait and give patients time to answer before moving on.

For patients, it’s always helpful to bring a list of questions or concerns with you to your healthcare visit. It’s also important to find a provider who you feel comfortable talking with and trust. The more at ease you are and the more you know your provider is really listening, the more likely you’ll share all the information that matters.

Don’t have a primary care provider? Visit our online provider directory at or call our Physician Referral Line at 269-686-4231.

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