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Concepts of trust in patients with serious illness focused on physician interpersonal and technical competence

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QUESTION: How do patients with serious medical conditions conceptualise and assess trust in their physicians?

Design

Exploratory descriptive study.

Setting

New Jersey, USA.

Patients

30 women (mean age 56 y) with breast cancer, 30 patients (mean age 48 y, 83% women) with Lyme disease, and 30 patients (mean age 43 y, 53% men) with a serious psychiatric illness.

Methods

In semi-structured interviews, patients were asked about various aspects of their interactions with their physicians, medical institutions, and healthcare plans. The interview schedule was based on a conceptualisation of 5 dimensions of trust that were identified from a literature review (competence, fiduciary responsibility and agency, control, confidentiality, and disclosure). Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed; individual phrases were coded using the above conceptualisation.

Main findings

Patient responses to the question “what does trust mean to …

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