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Do your patients trust you?: a sociological understanding of the implications of patient mistrust in healthcare professionals

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Author(s): Samantha B Meyer | Associate Professor Paul R Ward

Journal: Australasian Medical Journal
ISSN 1836-1935

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: .

ABSTRACT
The trust that patients invest in healthcare professionals and their advice has been shown to facilitatepositive clinical outcomes, although there is evidence that patient trust in expertise, including healthcareprofessionals, has been declining over the years. Questions about whether or not to trust healthcareprofessionals have been raised recently in international media by Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue,who spoke of her alleged initial misdiagnosis with breast cancer and went on to tell women that theyshould ‘follow their intuition’ rather than placing unquestioning trust in doctors or medical advice. Giventhe power of the media in shaping public opinion, there is a potential for such stories to further impact onthe already potentially friable doctor-patient relationships, with questions of trust taking centre-stage.Therefore, an understanding of the nature of trust, in addition to the reasons for the decline in patienttrust, is exceedingly important for health professionals. This paper presents an overview of socialtheories of trust that provide a lens through which we can analyse the development of mistrust inhealthcare, and identifies ways in which healthcare professionals may aim to facilitate and sustain patienttrust.

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