An Exploration of Patients' Trust in Physicians in Training

Several characteristics associated with patient trust are identified. To determine the level of trust patients from disadvantaged circumstances have in their primary care resident physician, and to determine patient and physician characteristics that predict trust, we administered a survey to randomly selected primary care patients of an academic medical center staffed by internal medicine residents after a visit to their primary care provider. Participants were adults. The group was racially diverse (50% non-white), English-speaking, and from lower socioeconomic groups. The 10-page survey consisted of 7 sections (Physician Trust Scale, Patient Demographics, Patient Health and Well-Being, Patient-Physician Relationship Characteristics, Global Doctor Trust Scale, and Physician Characteristics). The average trust score for primary care providers was 42.70 (standard deviation [SD] 6.20, maximum possible 50). Patient trust was associated with female gender of the participant, higher education level, male physician, and gender concordance between physician and patient, and was inversely related to patient age. Trust in the doctors and nurses at the hospital in which the clinic was located also had a positive association with trust. These patients from lower socioeconomic groups had relatively high levels of trust compared with patients from higher socioeconomic groups discussed in the literature.