HealthDay News — Approximately 47.5% of patients withhold potentially life-threatening issues from their physicians, including depression, suicidal feelings, domestic violence, and sexual assault, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Andrea Gurmankin Levy, PhD, of Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut, and colleagues studied responses from 4510 respondents to 2 nationwide surveys. One survey was conducted via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a crowdsourcing website (1210 participants), and the other was via Survey Sampling International (SSI; 2499 participants).

The authors found that among respondents who had experienced at least 1 of 4 threats (depression, suicidality, abuse, and sexual assault), 47.5% of respondents to the MTurk survey and 40.0% of respondents to the SSI survey withheld information from their physicians. Respondents cited embarrassment (MTurk, 72.7%; SSI, 70.9%); not wanting to be judged or lectured (MTurk, 66.4%; SSI, 53.4%); and concern about follow-up requirements, such as taking medication or seeing a therapist (MTurk, 62.4%; SSI, 51.1%). Respondents who were younger (MTurk: odds ratio [OR], 0.99 [95% CI, 0.98-1.00]; SSI: OR, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.97-1.00]) and female (MTurk: OR, 1.66 [95% CI, 1.30-2.11]; SSI: OR, 1.33 [95% CI, 1.07-1.67]) had higher rates of nondisclosure. Poorer self-reported health was also linked to nondisclosure in the SSI group (OR, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.74-0.96]).

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“These results highlight the continued need to develop effective interventions that improve the trust and communication between patients and their clinicians, particularly for sensitive, potentially life-threatening topics,” the authors write.

One author reported financial ties to pharmaceutical companies and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

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