Communication & Medicine, Vol 8, No 1 (2011)

An Exploratory Study of How Trust in Health Care Institutions Varies across African American, Hispanic and white Populations

Elizabeth Jacobs, Emily Mendenhall, Ann Scheck-McAlearney, Italia Rolle, Eric Whitaker, Richard Warnecke, Carol Ferrans
Issued Date: 8 Nov 2011


Background: Minority and non-minority patients in the United States have different levels of trust in health care; however, few studies have examined how determinants of trust and distrust in health care vary across diverse groups.

Objective: To explore how trust in health care institutions varies across diverse populations.

Methods: We conducted 17 focus groups with 117 participants in Chicago: 9 with African American, 5 with Hispanic, and 3 with white participants. Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and coded using grounded theory analysis to identify dominant themes.

Results: We found a core set of factors that contribute to trust and distrust across racial/ethnic groups. In addition, there were unique factors that contributed to distrust among African Americans and Hispanics. Both of these groups discussed expectations of discrimination in the health care setting and African Americans discussed expectations of being experimented on as determinants of distrust. Based on these findings, we developed a hypothetical model of how different factors influence trust and distrust in health care across these different racial/ethnic groups.

Conclusions: Contributors to trust and distrust in health care institutions are not always uniform across racial/ethnic groups. These differences should be addressed in future research and efforts to enhance trust in health care institutions.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v8i1.89


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