Let's Start Talking Dr No

Let's Start Talking Dr No

30 Aug 2019

Big little liars: 18 million Brits lying to their doctor

  • The average Brit tells 30+ lies per week and 18 million of us admit lying to the doc
  • But it’s impacting our mental and physical health – causing treatment and diagnosis delays
  • Experts at LifeSearch are urging Brits to face up to the truth and start an honest conversation 

The average Brit now tells 33 lies a week – and far from being little white lies, they’re putting our health at risk. 

The new study from the UK’s leading life insurance broker LifeSearch shows the full impact of our fibbing habits for the first time, with millions of us telling lies to our friends, family, employer or even our doctor several times each week. 

In fact nearly 18 million Brits admit lying to the doctor about things like alcohol intake, smoking and illegal drug use or even the severity of their symptoms, collectively telling the doctor at least 10 million lies in the last week alone1.

But for six in ten, withholding the truth has led to serious consequences including a deterioration in mental or physical health, treatment or diagnosis delays or even a hospital stay2.

However, the lies don’t stop once we leave the GP surgery. Two in three of us (63%) say we’re busy when we aren’t really, and almost half (45%) say we like someone’s new hair or outfit or even their new partner (31%) when we feel the opposite way. 

And while many of us may consider these ‘white lies’, our bad habits mean that we’re shying away from other uncomfortable truths – even lying to ourselves. On average we now tell ourselves fibs around six times a week, including about the state of our mental health (14%) or our finances (10%). 

Shying away from the truth can leave families unprotected and out of pocket when the worst happens, so LifeSearch is seeking to increase conversations about these issues through its Let’s Start Talking campaign, which encourages the nation to be more open about the subjects that make us uncomfortable, including mental health, money, illness and death. 

Emma Walker from LifeSearch comments: 

“Sometimes it can seem easier to tell a lie to get out of a difficult or awkward conversation, and we’ve all told a white lie here and there to spare someone’s feelings. But what’s particularly concerning is the fact that many of us aren’t facing up to issues which could affect us in the long term – and we’re even putting our health at risk. 

“At LifeSearch we speak to hundreds of people every day who simply aren’t having conversations that could save them serious emotional and financial pain. Rather than lying about issues in the hope they’ll disappear, it’s always best to be open and honest about them, so that if the worst should happen, you’ll be prepared and protected.”

Dr Zoe Norris, NHS GP comments:

"In my role as a GP I often see patients who are worried about telling me what's really wrong, either through embarrassment or fear of being judged. But it's my job to advise on the best solution whatever's troubling you. Everything you tell me is confidential and I’m pretty hard to shock!”

"Facing up to the truth, though it may be uncomfortable, is really important in making sure you get the right treatment at the right time. It's often the case that early treatment or diagnosis leads to better health in the long term - so being honest with your GP is a really good habit to get into."

LifeSearch has created a range of content to help get Britain talking, rather than telling little lies or pushing issues under the rug here.

Notes to editors
Omnibus research was conducted by CensusWide on behalf of LifeSearch. This was an online poll of 2,004 adults aged 16+ and a national representative spread. The research was conducted in August 2019.

The LifeSearch ‘Let’s Start Talking’ Report was released in March 2019 and polled 2,031 people between 17th and 21st February 2019. The data was weighted to be a national representative sample. Full report is available here.

1. There are 53,811,371 adults aged 16+ in the UK, according to ONS. 33% of respondents in the survey said they lie to their doctor = 17,757,752 million people. 20% of people said they had told at least one lie to their doctor over the past week = 10,762,274
2. 14% of people said their mental health worsened. 10% said their physical health worsened. For 7% their treatment was delayed, 9% had their diagnosis delayed and 6% had to go to hospital

For media comment, case studies and interviews please contact

Victoria Mayman: 020 3856 9484 
Tim Amoui: 07919 592 408
Liam Reeves: 020 3668 6904

About LifeSearch

You know it as life insurance, we call it protecting families. And since 1998, LifeSearch have protected hundreds of thousands of UK families from the financial fallout of catastrophe, critical illness and death.

Over 21 years, LifeSearch has grown into the UK's biggest life insurance broker, offering expert, independent advice to customers around life insurance, critical illness cover, income protection, family income benefit, serious illness cover and business insurance

In two decades, LifeSearch has picked up hundreds of awards for its culture, expertise and customer service. Boasting a TrustPilot score of 9.6, the company is ranked number #3 in the Sunday Times' 2019 list of Best Places to Work.

LifeSearch is an appointed representative of LifeSearch Partners Limited, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 


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LifeSearch Limited is an Appointed Representative of LifeSearch Partners Limited, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Calls may be monitored/recorded.