Purpose: The aim of this paper is to provide a rationale for examining trust in health care.
Design/methodology/approach: Conducts a review of the literature of trust relations in health care that highlighted that most empirical research has addressed threats to patient-provider relationships and trust in health care systems from the patient's perspective, but studies in the organisational literature suggests that trust relations in the workforce, between providers and between providers and managers, may also influence patient-provider relationships and levels of trust.
Findings: Suggests that trust is not primarily dispositional or an individual attribute or psychological state, but is constructed from a set of inter-personal behaviors or from a shared identity. These behaviors are underpinned by sets of institutional rules, laws and customs.
Research limitations/implications: This introductory paper has presented some evidence from an international, comparative study but there is the need for further, more detailed investigation into why trust relations may vary in different health care systems.
Originality/value: This introductory paper provides a rationale for examining trust in health care and a context for the different elements of trust.