Open Access

Trust in an individual physician and its contradictions


Introduction: This article analyses the essential contradictions in the phenomenon of trust and the dilemmas this creates for empirical Research on health and the health care system. The trust a patient places in their physician (and—though more rarely—in the health system itself) is generally regarded as an important factor in the patient's health; hence, a crucial research problem is the question of which factors influence a patient's trust.

Methods: In this article, we analyse the attitudes regarding the role of the state in health care - the analysis is based on Slovenian public opinion surveys (1995-2007). In the second part of the analysis we focus on an analysis of the influence of experience with medical institutions and medical personnel, the respondents' subjective evaluation of their own health and a group of sociodemographic factors relating to social inequality (Slovene public opinion, SPO 2001/3).

Results: Similar to the results of numerous other empirical studies, our research shows that these factors only partially explain trust in an individual physician. At the same time, we find a relatively large difference between trust in an individual physician and trust in the health service.

Conclusion: We explain the results by means of the contradictions and multidimensionality of the phenomenon of trust itself and the quandaries in the conceptualizations of trust.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Hygiene and Environmental Medicine