Annals of Family Medicine: Increasing Trust is Key to Addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic and Other Threats to Health

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:36 AM EST

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the health of communities worldwide, and health care communities seek to administer COVID vaccines en masse, patients' trust in the medical profession has never been more important.

However, patients' trust in the medical profession – and clinicians' trust in their own organizations – has dropped during the last 50 years.

Two articles published in the current issue of Annals of Family Medicine provide insights into how this trend has affected patient outcomes and what the health care community should do to increase trust both among clinicians and organizations, and patients and their clinicians.

Researchers from Hennepin Healthcare and the University of Minnesota, found that patients' trust in their clinicians is connected to specific aspects of culture of the organization, and the level of trust their clinicians have in the health organization in which they work.

"Lack of trust in the medical profession has implications for patient care since research from past epidemics has shown that lack of trust decreases the likelihood of patients adhering to public health recommendations," Linzer et al write. "It is critical to identify factors that will assist health systems to better understand how to create the most trust within their work environments."

Linzer and his colleagues used baseline data from a randomized trial of interventions to improve clinician work life in 34 primary care clinics, to identify characteristics associated with high levels of clinician-organization and patient-clinician trust. These included:

  • An emphasis on quality
  • An emphasis on communication and information
  • Cohesiveness among clinicians
  • Shared values between clinicians and their leaders

Family physician and blogger Kenneth W. Lin, MD, MPH, of Georgetown University Medical Center concurs with Linzer  et al in an accompanying editorial piece.

Lin says increased patient trust in health care is crucial to paving a way forward through the current pandemic. "As mass vaccination campaigns have stalled, recommendations from trusted primary care clinicians have become critical to overcoming vaccine hesitancy," he writes.

Where Trust Flourishes: Perceptions of Clinicians Who Trust Their Organizations and Are Trusted by Their Patients
Mark Linzer, MD, et al.
Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute, Hennepin Healthcare, Minneapolis, MN

Trust and Relationships Remain at the Heart of Primary Care
Kenneth W. Lin, MD, MPH
Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC

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SOURCE Annals of Family Medicine

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