The association of patient trust and self-care among patients with diabetes mellitus

BMC Fam Pract. 2004 Nov 16;5:26. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-5-26.


Background: Diabetes requires significant alterations to lifestyle and completion of self management tasks to obtain good control of disease. The objective of this study was to determine if patient trust is associated with reduced difficulty and hassles in altering lifestyle and completing self care tasks.

Methods: A cross-sectional telephone survey and medical record review was performed to measure patient trust and difficulty in completing diabetes tasks among 320 medically underserved patients attending diabetes programs in rural North Carolina, USA. Diabetes tasks were measured three ways: perceived hassles of diabetic care activities, difficulty in completing diabetes-related care activities, and a global assessment of overall ability to complete diabetes care activities. The association of patient trust with self-management was examined after controlling for patient demographics, physical functioning, mental health and co-morbidities.

Results: Level of patient trust was high (median 22, possible max 25). Higher trust levels were associated with lower levels of hassles (p = 0.006) and lower difficulty in completing care activities (p = 0.001). Patients with higher trust had better global assessments of overall ability to complete diabetes care activities (p < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Higher patient trust in physicians is associated with reduced difficulty in completing disease specific tasks by patients. Further studies are needed to determine the causal relationship of this association, the effect of trust on other outcomes, and the potential modifiability of trust.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Trust / psychology*


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A