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Nearly Half of Patients Keep Info About Sexual Assault, Depression from Doctors

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Nearly half of people who've survived a sexual assault, faced threats of domestic violence, struggled with depression or thought about committing suicide has not reported these experiences during a doctor's visit, a new study says.

More than two-thirds of patients withheld the information from their doctor out of fear embarrassment, judgment or being lectured, according to research published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open.

"For primary care providers to help patients to achieve their best health, they need to know what the patient is struggling with," Angela Fagerlin, a researcher at the University of Utah and study senior author, said in a news release.

The study included responses from more than 4,500 people who responded to two surveys in 2015. The average ages of the respondents for the surveys were 36 and 61. They were asked if and why they ever withheld important medical information from their clinicians.

Between 40 and 47.5 percent of the respondents didn't tell their medical providers about experiencing at least one of the four threats. And young or female patients were more likely to withhold this information.

To get even better results, the researchers say they will attempt to make person-to-person contact with patients as they leave their doctor's appointments.

"If we are there, we can ask them right in the moment so they can more easily put their finger on exactly what was at issue -- why they didn't share such crucial information," said Andrea Gurmankin Levy, a researcher at Middlesex Community College in Connecticut and study author.

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Schedule24 Sep 2023