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Measuring Patient Trust: Comparing Measures From A Survey And An Economic Experiment

Roxanne J Kovacs, M. Lagarde, J. Cairns
Published 2019 · Psychology, Medicine

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Despite its importance in health care, empirical evidence on patient trust is limited. This is likely because, as with many complex concepts, trust is difficult to measure. This study measured patient trust in health care providers in a sample of 667 patients in Senegal. Two instruments were used to measure patient trust in providers: a survey questionnaire and an incentivised behavioural economic experiment-a "trust game." The results show that the two measures are significantly, but weakly, associated. Using information from patients and providers, we find that continuity of care, provider communication ability, and clinical competence were positively associated with patient trust. Based on the results obtained from both methods, the trust game seems to have higher construct validity than the survey instrument in this context. This paper contributes to the methodological literature on patient trust and the evidence on the determinants of patient trust. It suggests that researchers interested in studying patient trust in providers should rely more on economic experiments and explore their validity in different contexts.
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