Rationale and objectives: Trust in one's doctor has been associated with increased treatment adherence, patient satisfaction and improved health status. This study investigated the level and correlates of patient trust in their cardiac specialist.
Methods: All 386 urban cardiologists in Southern Ontario (95 participating, response rate = 30%) were approached to recruit a sample of their coronary artery disease outpatients. A total of 1111 recent and consecutive patients consented to participate (approximately 13 patients per cardiologist, 317 female (26.7%); response rate = 60%), and clinical data were extracted from their medical charts. Participants completed a mailed survey including the Trust in Physicians scale, in addition to an assessment of socio-demographic, clinical and psychosocial correlates.
Results: The mean trust score was equivalent to that reported in studies of primary care patients. Results of the significant multivariate model (F = 7.631, P < 0.001) revealed that less education (P < 0.001), higher systolic blood pressure (P = 0.022), less perceived cyclical/unpredictable illness timeline (P = 0.007) and greater perceived personal control over their heart condition (P = 0.004), were significant correlates of greater trust in cardiologist care.
Conclusions: The significance of education is corroborated by findings of lower satisfaction with cardiac care among those of higher socio-economic status, despite having generally greater access to care in Ontario. Moreover, the relationship between hypertension and greater trust may suggest that such perceptions are not based on doctor competence. Future studies should further investigate the correlates of trust, as well as the impact of trust on cardiac health outcomes.