Patient Doctor Lies

Brief Summary

Accurate patient information disclosure is critical to provide optimal treatment. Methods that can detect and then increase the truthfulness of information are relatively unknown.

To investigate the impact of communication about privacy, benefits, and risk on patient truthfulness, the investigators test two new methods to detect patient truthfulness and demonstrate the effects of privacy notices (e.g. HIPPA statements).

Participants include a national online sample randomly assigned to one of six treatment statements that might be typically given before health information was requested. The assigned treatments include one or mix of the following: privacy notice, statement of the benefits of accurate disclosure, and statement of the risks of inaccurate disclosure and control of no statement before being asked typical health questions.

The investigators propose that based on elaboration likelihood model, statements reminding participants of their privacy will increase lying.

The investigators hypothesis the use of a new biometric mouse movement lie detection method and answer adjustment can measure patient lies.

The investigators hypothesis that reminders of the risk of not telling the truth will reduce lying due to risk aversion.

Lastly the investigators hypothesis that statements of benefits of answering truthfully will increase truthfulness.

Intervention / Treatment

  • Behavioral: Benefit statement
  • Behavioral: Risk Statement
  • Behavioral: Privacy Statement
  • Behavioral: Benefit + Privacy
  • Behavioral: Risk + Privacy

Condition or Disease

  • Patient Lying
  • Privacy Statements
  • Risk Statements
  • Benefit Statements
  • Patient Lie Detection


Study Design

Study type: Interventional
Status: Completed
Study results: No Results Available
Age: 18 Years to 80 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Enrollment: 619 ()
Funded by: Other


Clinical Trial Dates

Start date: Feb 12, 2020
Primary Completion: Apr 19, 2020
Completion Date: Apr 19, 2020
Study First Posted: Mar 17, 2021
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Sponsors / Collaborators

Lead Sponsor: N/A
Responsible Party: N/A


After agreeing to an IRB-approved modified consent form designed to hide the true purpose of the study to detect lying, all participants will complete the CESD-10 depression scale. This validated measure of depression was used in order to simulate the false pretense of the experiment.

This online survey randomly assigns participating adults to one of six intervention statements after which they are asked eight typical questions about their health. The statements include:

  1. control (no stimuli)
  2. benefit (statement about the benefits of accurate information disclosure)
  3. risk (statement about the risks of inaccurate information disclosure)
  4. privacy (a traditional medical privacy notification and seal image)
  5. privacy + benefit
  6. privacy + risk After this intervention participants are asked to disclose eight items of personal health information, including their weight, height, alcohol intake, illegal drug use, prescription drug abuse, smoking, exercise, and sexual activity. We do not assess these actual numbers. They will be the basis for assessing truthfulness by answer adjustment or biometric mouse-movement.

An example of an intervention benefit statement followed by a health question about weight reads: "What is your weight? Accurately answering this will increase the likelihood of a correct diagnosis." A risk statement reads: "What is your weight? Inaccurately answering this will increase the likelihood of an incorrect diagnosis." A privacy statement read: "What is your weight? We will not share or sell this personal health information with anyone. We will comply with all HIPPA regulations regarding the protection of your data."

The dependent variable - patient truthfulness, will be measured in two ways.

  1. First measure of truthfulness will be a biometric mouse-movement measure. As participants answer the health care questions coded programming will measure the mouse-movement arc distance and time to response for biometric lie detection. This measurement is completed when participants move to their response to each health question.
  2. Second measure of truthfulness will be the answer adjustment method. Participants will be given a summary of their answers from their health questions in a read-only format and asked to indicate how OVER of UNDERSTATED each initial response was (e.g., "You indicated that your current weight is 185 lbs. How overstated or understated is that value?") on a scale from -5 (understated) to 5 (overstated). The absolute value of their scaled response represents the extent to which participants' initial response deviated from the truth. This the unit of measure to be used in analysis.
  3. The answer adjustment values and the mouse tracking results provide a more holistic measure of truthfulness than one alone.

No personal identifiers are collected. Age and gender are collected.

Eligibility Criteria

Sex: All

More Details

NCT Number: NCT04803448
Other IDs: 19-059
Study URL:
Last updated: Jun 17, 2022