Why do People Avoid Doctors or Hospital Visit?

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Do you know or have a friend or loved one who can’t remember the last time they had a doctor’s appointment, they might justify it by saying they never get sick or don’t have any risk factors. Even if they are generally healthy, that doesn’t mean they should skip out on doctor’s visit for preventive care.

1. They Don’t Know About the Benefits of Preventive Care or Understand Their Health Risks

If someone is generally in good health (especially the young ones) they may not see the point in going to consult the doctor. There are some people who are “healthy as a horse”, such may go years, if not decades, without seeing a medical professional.

If this sounds like your loved one, they may not realize that regular preventive care is actually one of the best ways to stay healthy.

Preventive health care promotes better health by empowering the patients, making it valuable for everyone regardless of their health status.

People are also often confused about what “risk” means in relation to their health. Some risks are visible and modifiable, such as smoking, but other types aren’t as obvious, like the impact of genetic or environmental risk factors.

For example, if someone is in good health and no one in their family has a serious illness, they might believe they are not at risk for a specific disease or condition. Likewise, if they have been working in a particular job for many years and have yet to experience any ill effects, they may assume that they never will.

2. Fear

People may resist going to the doctor out of fear. Some people have specific fears associated with doctor’s offices, hospitals, or medical procedures, such as needles. Other people just find the experience of generally anxiety-provoking. You are not alone, even a doctor is sometime afraid of an injection or surgical procedure.

So sometimes, a person may be reluctant to seek medical care, even when routine, out of the fear that they will be told something is wrong. They may even refuse to have tests or screenings because they are afraid of receiving a difficult diagnosis or something else they perceive as “bad news.”

Last year (2020), Mr Bode * (real name withheld) complained of fever and cold . He felt he was having Typhoid fever, so he visited nearby Pharmacy to buy drugs for treatment. However, by 8pm same day Mr Bode body temperature changes, his wife is pregnant and she was afraid losing her husband. She suggested to her husband to visit a nearby hospital for quick intervention.

When they arrived at the hospital, his body temperature was high and the security officer alerted the doctor on duty. Instead of the doctor to focus on the patient who came for a different thing due to the wise suggestions, he was telling the patient that they will keep him inside the isolation room and  call the Covid-19 emergency contact number.

Further more, he will be responsible for keeping him in the room and other charges attached. The story took a different shape as Mr Bode and wife have to forcefully find their way out of the hospital.. finally, he have no other option than to managed himself at home. I am sure many of us have our different story to share regarding how some hospital handled suspected Covid-19 patient.  Do you know that some medical practitioners lack the ethics of good customer services? So, do not be surprised when you see some doctors, not speaking consolingly or with empathy to their patient.

3. They Lack Support and Resources

People struggling to access resources due to poverty, mental or physical disabilities, or other barriers may feel ashamed and demoralized when trying to interact with the healthcare system.

For example, uninsured individuals might believe they will be refused care. Those who have state-provided coverage may be afraid that they will be treated differently than someone with private insurance.

People may not seek health care because doing so would require asking for help, and they don’t want to be a burden to others. For example, a person who doesn’t have a car may not want to ask a friend for a ride to the clinic.

Work, school, and family commitments can also make it more difficult for someone to address their healthcare needs. If an appointment would require someone to take time off from work or school, they might fret about the time and money lost or be concerned about falling behind.

A person with small children or someone else at home that they take care of may not be able to keep an appointment if they don’t have someone to step in while they’re gone.


4. Embarrassment

Certain elements of a doctor’s visit can be embarrassing. Many people are uncomfortable being asked direct questions about their bowel habits or sexual activity—especially by a professional they don’t know or perhaps have only just met for the first time!

Needing to disrobe for a physical exam can also make a person feel vulnerable. Some exams, such as those of the breast and prostate, can be especially invasive. For instance, two (2) women visited a hospital facility in Abuja for routine health-check, among the investigations to be conducted were mammogram, chest X-ray and pelvic scan. There was no female radiologist to handle them as at that time except a male. They were not comfortable with the investigations.

People with a history of trauma may be especially reluctant, especially if they are afraid of re-experiencing their trauma. While an increasing number of healthcare providers are practicing trauma-informed care, your loved one may not be comfortable discussing their mental health needs. In fact, they may not even realize it’s a conversation they can, and should, have with their doctor.

Sometimes, a person may also feel embarrassed seeking health care even when they have symptoms. They may worry that they are just “being dramatic” or “making a mountain out of a molehill.” They may also be concerned a doctor will tell them their symptoms are “all in their head.”

5. They’re Embarrassed or Afraid

When asked directly about their health, people may respond defensively—especially if they feel that they are being judged. Someone’s health is a private matter that involves multiple personal decisions. Adults, in particular, may feel that they are being “coddled” or “nagged” when asked about health care.

Sometimes, a knee-jerk reaction is hiding an emotion your loved one is feeling just below the surface, such as fear, shame, or guilt.

6. They Are not Sure of Where, How to Find One 

Your friend or loved one might be willing, even eager, to see a doctor—they just aren’t sure where, or how, to find one. If they have complex health needs, they can easily become overwhelmed trying to determine what type of health care they need beyond a primary care doctor.

People living in rural areas often have far fewer resources to choose from compared to people living in cities. In some cases, technology can help bridge the gap by connecting patients with clinicians via Telehealth services.

A Word From Oshobaba

There are many reasons a person might not be able to go to the doctor—even when they need and want to do so. If your loved one hasn’t been to a doctor for a long time, you might want to encourage them—if not for specific symptoms, then for preventive care.

If you try to have the conversation and get shut down, consider that your loved one might be facing barriers to getting the care they need. If there are ways you can help your loved one, such as offering support, providing transportation, or assisting with finding a doctor, let them know you’re ready and willing to lend a hand. Creating a calm and nonjudgmental environment to discuss these challenges will help you support your loved ones as they consider decisions about their current and future healthcare needs.

If your loved one isn’t responding right away, remember that it might take some time for your words to have an impact. Revisit the conversation at a later date. Also, remember that it’s ultimately your loved one’s decision to seek care. It can be tough to accept this, but if they aren’t responding to your concerns after some time, there is only so much you can do. Your loved one needs to come to their own conclusions when it comes to their health.

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