Trust in Physicians and Medical Experience Beliefs Differ Between Women With and Without Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

J Endocr Soc. 2018 Aug 1;2(9):1001-1009. doi: 10.1210/js.2018-00181. eCollection 2018 Sep 1.


Context: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) report dissatisfaction with their early medical care. Little is understood about factors that can encourage stronger patient-provider relationships and promote treatment adherence.

Objective: To compare trust in physicians and beliefs about social support from health care providers between women with and without PCOS.

Design: Cross-sectional study with online questionnaire.

Setting: Medical clinic referral or broader community recruitment via advertising and websites.

Participants: Three hundred thirty-two US-based women with PCOS or with regular menses (n = 134 and n = 198, respectively).

Main outcome measures: Trust and social support toward health care providers [primary care physicians (PCPs), specialists, and/or nurse practitioners and physician assistants].

Results: PCOS was associated with greater distrust in the PCP's opinion (P < 0.01) and greater confidence about the PCP's prioritization of general health concerns (P = 0.04) than the comparison group. Patients with PCOS felt that the PCP spent less effort and were less qualified to treat PCOS health concerns than general health concerns (both P < 0.001). No significant associations were observed between PCOS diagnosis and trust in specialists. When examining social support, women with PCOS felt they had more arguments with their health care providers than the comparison group (P = 0.02).

Conclusion: Women with PCOS reported greater overall distrust in the PCP's opinions and more arguments with their health care providers than women without PCOS. These findings support a need to identify additional areas of improvement in the patient-provider relationship to ensure continuity of care for patients with PCOS who require life-long surveillance.

Keywords: PCOS; healthcare; patient education; patient satisfaction; primary care physician; social support.