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Survey: More than half in U.S. not honest with doctors

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Updated: 12/24/2012 10:33 am
By Erika Edwards
NBC News

A survey shows more than half of Americans aren't totally truthful with their doctors, and physicians say even little white lies might have health consequences.

A thousand adults were surveyed by Pearl.com, an online source for advice from doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

Researchers found that when put on the spot patients tend to fudge the food they eat, how much they eat and whether they exercise.

"There are intensely personal items and issues that people may not feel comfortable sharing," says Dr. Greg Weidner.

They also tend to fib about their smoking and drinking habits.

Both can raise the risk for heart disease and some cancers.

Doctors say it's important to have as much health-related information as possible.

"The more we know about patients' information, in particular their medications, the better job we can do in making certain that the medications don't interact with one another," Weidner says.

The survey also revealed patients are foregoing uncomfortable face-to-face conversations in favor of seeking online information, mainly about sex and sexually transmitted diseases.

"Forty-one percent of people feel more comfortable asking questions about sex-related issues online rather than asking in person," says Pearl.com's Allison Leeds.

Doctors are human, too.

They understand patients can be more comfortable researching sensitive information in the privacy of their homes, and they offer a gentle reminder - there is no mention of "judgment" in the Hypocratic Oath.
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