'We shed tears, but there is no one there to wipe them up for us': narratives of (mis)trust in a materially deprived community

Health (London). 2006 Jul;10(3):283-301. doi: 10.1177/1363459306064481.


This article reports on a qualitative study in a materially deprived locality in northern England, which originally aimed to explore local residents' views of proposed changes to local health care provision. However, participants also quickly moved the research agenda onto widespread discussions of (mis)trust. Unlike much sociological literature that defines trust as operating on two levels (inter-personal and system-based), their narratives of trust were constructed on several inter-connected levels. We explore mistrust in local general practitioners (GPs) as a factor of mistrust of a number of local and national organizations and social systems, rather than solely related to the medical system. Widespread mistrust of 'authority' was narrated through a shared history of disinvestment and loss of services in the locality and 'broken promises' by a range of institutions, which precipitated feelings of social exclusion and disembeddedness.

MeSH terms

  • England
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hospitals, Public
  • Humans
  • Physicians, Family
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Class
  • State Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Trust*