Patients' intentional deceptions of medical professionals: Emphasizing concealment and under-reporting by purportedly healthy individuals

Date of Completion

January 2002


Health Sciences, Public Health|Psychology, Clinical




This study examines the frequency with which people intentionally conceal various types of information from medical and mental healthcare professionals, as well as their methods and their reasons for concealing. Three hundred and thirty-one participants (mean age of 36; 68.3% White, 13.6% Hispanic, and 9.7% African American) were recruited at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and asked fill out the Medical Information Reporting Scale (MIRS). Results indicated that 95.2% of all participants admitted to intentionally concealing at least some type of information from healthcare professionals. Across all participants, the frequency of flossing, not exercising, and eating a poor diet were the items reported to be concealed by the largest number of participants in this study. When considering only those participants who reported it to be true, feeling suicidal or having attempted suicide was concealed by the largest number of participants. The most frequently endorsed reasons for withholding information included embarrassment and the beliefs that the problem was not important or relevant and that the symptoms would go away. The method most frequently used to conceal information was to simply not mention the information and to mention only part of the information. There were no significant group differences between men and women. When controlling for yearly family income, African American and Hispanic participants did not differ significantly from White participants on the number of items endorsed or concealed, but did differ on the mean frequency with which they concealed them. ^