19th June 2015

Families are often left in the dark about the serious medical conditions of their loved ones, with 26% of people living with serious injuries or illnesses actively hiding the fact. And as a result they are delaying treatment and increasing long-term risks to their health.

 According to a new study* by Patient Claim Line, we are much more comfortable confiding in friends who are often told about health issues before husbands, wives or parents. Typically it is men who are the most secretive, with married men more than twice as likely to speak to friends on medical matters than their wives.

 The desire not to worry loved ones also means that it can be a long time before we seek treatment. The research showed that nearly half (43%) of people with a serious illness or injury wait over a year before getting professional advice.

 People are even more reluctant to raise concerns when they have had treatment that has either failed to resolve the problem or caused fresh issues as a result of medical negligence.

 In such cases the proportion of people hiding concerns from family soars to 68% (from 26%).

 Ed Fletcher, CEO of Patient Claim Line, said: “Our ‘mustn’t grumble’ approach to illness is admirable to an extent, but when it means keeping secrets from loved ones to the detriment of our health, it’s time to loosen our stiff upper lips.

 “This is especially true in the examples we see of medical negligence injuries where people can be very reluctant to seek advice, typically because they don’t want to make a fuss – the most common reason why people delay seeking advice (43% of cases).

 “When people do eventually seek advice it is normally because a friend or other medical professional has convinced them to do so. In many cases family members are still the last to know.”

 An infographic to highlight the findings of the research can be accessed here:

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