Development and Validation of the Trust in My Doctor, Trust in Doctors in General, and Trust in the Health Care Team Scales

Soc Sci Med. 2022 Apr;298:114827. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.114827. Epub 2022 Feb 16.


Rationale: Historic and present-day racism and inequity in the United States (U.S.) have resulted in diminished trust in health care among many populations. A key barrier to improving trust in health care is a dearth of well-validated measures appropriate for diverse populations. Indeed, systematic reviews indicate a need to develop and test updated trust measures that are multidimensional and inclusive of relevant domains (e.g., fairness).

Objective: We developed three trust measures: the Trust in My Doctor (T-MD), Trust in Doctors in General (T-DiG), and Trust in the Health Care Team (T-HCT) scales.

Methods: After developing an initial item pool, expert reviewers (n = 6) provided feedback on the face validity of each scale. We conducted cognitive interviews (n = 21) with a convenience sample of adults to ensure items were interpreted as intended. In 2020, we administered an online survey to a convenience sample of U.S. adults recruited through the Qualtrics Panel (n = 801) to assess scale reliability and validity.

Results: Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses indicated acceptable model fit for second order latent factor models for each scale (root mean square error of approximation: <0.07, comparative fit index: ≥0.98, and standardized root mean square residual: ≤0.03). The T-MD contained 25 items and six subscales: communication competency, fidelity, systems trust, confidentiality, fairness, and global trust. The T-DiG and T-HCT each contained 29 items and seven subscales (the same subscales in the T-MD plus an additional subscale related to stigma-based discrimination). Each scale was strongly correlated with existing trust measures and perceived racism in health care and was significantly associated with delayed health care seeking and receipt of a routine health exam.

Conclusions: The multidimensional T-MD, T-DiG, and T-HCT scales have sound psychometric properties and may be useful for researchers evaluating trust-related interventions or conducting studies where trust is an important construct or main outcome.

Keywords: Doctors; Health care; Health equity; Mistrust; Scale development; Scale validation; Trust; United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust* / psychology
  • United States