Telling The Truth About Health – the Results!

In the run up to our Cannes Lions talk about the power of the truth in healthcare communications, we wanted to know how you felt. Do we want healthcare professionals to tell us the truth? Do we tell the truth to each other, and to ourselves? And, are some things just too embarrassing to talk about?

We asked you for your thoughts, and your answers surprised us. Our results are by no means scientific – but we did get responses from thousands of people from across the globe. Twitter ain’t no polygraph though, and the nature of getting someone to tell you the truth about telling the truth is fraught with paradox. However, our findings do demonstrate the importance of telling the truth when it comes to healthcare.

One of the speakers who will be joining us is Tania Boler. Tania is co-founder and CEO of Chiaro, a women’s health tech company who have created a personal training device for your pelvic floor. So we threw the question out there: would you use a device that enhanced your pelvic floor?

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Luckily for Tania, over half our participants would happily use one for the benefits they afford. But nearly half of people thought it was ‘too embarrassing’. Do you think the same proportion would feel the same about wearable tech designed to strengthen their biceps, or calf muscles?

We’ve come a long way, but society – ladies included – still just isn’t fully comfortable with women’s bodies. From body hair to breastfeeding in public, it seems as if the most frequent emotional setting when it comes to the female anatomy is shame.

This theme continued with a second poll gauging people’s feelings about the portrayal of childbirth in the media.

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Slightly more people felt that the media does present a realistic portrait, and shows such as One Born Every Minute may have figured in redressing this balance. But seeing that women have been giving birth for quite a while now, I think this poll shows that we still have a long way to go.

Next up, we were tackling depression (it was quite a week). For all the talk of ‘reducing the stigma’ surrounding mental illness, it remains something that most of us would rather just cover up.

We asked whether you should talk to someone about their illness if you thought they had depression. We had a really positive result from this question, with three quarters saying they would be brave enough to speak to a friend in need.

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It’s a different story though when we talk about ourselves. 42% thought it was better to just bottle up your feelings rather than tell someone else. It makes you wonder what that “I’m fine, thanks” really means.

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By far the most landslide response to our poll came with this question: if you were dying, would you want the facts, or a comforting lie?

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An incredible 86% of respondents said yes. It seems as if even in our darkest and most difficult moments, what we really crave is the truth.

We’ll be exploring the darker side of healthcare storytelling at our Cannes Lions event. We’ll be accompanied by John Duncan of VICE Magazine’s health channel Tonic and Tania Boler, co-founder and CEO of Chiaro, a women’s health tech company. Don’t miss us discussing vice, vaginas, death and disease on the 18th June – or you may live to regret it.