Organizations acknowledge that there is a need to improve patient trust in providers, provider trust in patients, and public trust in health care systems. Many have invested in their communities to improve the social determinants of health impacted by mistrust. However, despite these efforts, there are still challenges. Where is the disconnect? And what do health care institutions need to do to improve their trustworthiness? The Research Community on Trust’s Scholars in Residence, Jodyn Platt, M.P.H., Ph.D., and Lauren Taylor, Ph.D., M.Div., M.P.H., seek to address those questions in their recently published work.

In “Fifty Years of Trust Research in Health Care: A Synthetic Review,” Dr. Platt and Dr. Taylor outline key findings from their review of trust literature in health services and health policy research. This informs their suggested approaches for policymakers on ways to rebuild trust in the health care system, which include “creating and enforcing health policies that make exploitative behavior costly,” and “being transparent and effective about their role in the provision of health services to the public.” Read the full article here, and the blog post targeted directly to policymakers here.

In an essay published by JAMA Health Forum, “An Ecosystem Approach to Earning and Sustaining Trust in Health Care—Too Big to Care,” Dr. Platt and her colleague discuss the challenges of fostering trust in a health care system that is vast, uncoordinated, and often impersonal. Key questions that are explored include:


  • How do our policies provide guardrails for trusted and trustworthy systems that prevent our systems from operating as too big to care?
  • Are our trust-building initiatives meaningful, and not merely performative? Are our communications to educate or change minds coupled with learning and human connection?
  • How are we managing the size of our enterprise? Are we too big to care? How are we leveraging size to implement trust-building approaches and disseminate knowledge?

In their piece published in Health Affairs Forefront, “The Overlooked Role Of Physician Trust In Patients,” Dr. Platt, Dr. Taylor, and their colleagues observe that “the health care community is right to be concerned about emerging evidence that patients increasingly distrust the health care system at large, as well as the uptick in violence and other harms perpetrated against health care workers. It’s not hyperbolic to say that trust is what the whole health care delivery system runs on—and where it’s absent, we see major breakdowns. But the same is true about the trust that needs to flow from doctors to patients. Without it, the system will be similarly in jeopardy. Hence, our efforts to build patient trust should be matched by careful consideration of how to preserve physician trust in patients.”

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Taylor Dunlap

Research Assistant - AcademyHealth

Taylor Dunlap is a Research Assistant with AcademyHealth. She works with the Health Policy Research Scholars a... Read Bio

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