A majority of Americans are hesitant to ask their healthcare providers about health conditions or symptoms, with men less eager to engage than women. 

As a result, visits to the doctor remain a source of anxiety for nearly 40% of the adult population.

Those are the key takeaways from a recent PatientPoint survey of more than 2,000 Americans, which was conducted in conjunction with OnePoll.

PatientPoint, a leading provider of point-of-care technology and educational content, has an interest in illustrating the need for better communication before and during doctor’s appointments. That said, the survey results point to a keen shortfall of educational health materials that can reduce anxiety around such engagements.

“Transforming the doctor’s office from intimidating to engaging begins by putting ourselves in the patient’s shoes in those critical, reflective moments while they wait to see their healthcare provider,” PatientPoint founder and CEO Mike Collette said in a statement. “By leveraging technology to equip patients with the relevant education they want on their condition, we can empower them to speak up, ask questions and learn more about treatment options.”

The widespread patient anxiety is rooted in several related factors, the survey found. 

Just under 70% of respondents expressed concern that they wouldn’t be able to understand physicians’ responses to their questions. A smaller percentage, 38%, said they didn’t think they had enough information to properly prepare for — and thus take full advantage of — their visit. That’s probably why 48% reported that they have left a doctor’s appointment feeling confused.

This means that healthcare organizations have ample opportunities to improve the patient experience in general and subsequently boost their satisfaction.

“Waiting time is learning time, and knowledge is power,” Collette added in the statement. “Empowered patients make better decisions and better decisions mean better outcomes.”