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Two dimensions of trust in physicians in OECD-countries

Arttu Olavi Saarinen (Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Pekka Räsänen (Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Antti Kouvo (Department of Social Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 8 February 2016

443

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse citizens’ trust in physicians in 22 OECD countries.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors measure trust in physicians using items on generalised and particularised trust. Individual-level data are received from the ISSP Research Group (2011). The authors also utilise macro variables drawn from different data banks. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and xtlogit regression models. The main micro-level hypothesis is that low self-reported health is strongly associated with lower trust in physicians. The second micro-level hypothesis is that frequent meetings with physicians result in higher trust. The third micro-level hypothesis assumes that males, and older and better educated respondents, express higher trust compared to others. The first macro-level hypothesis is that lower income inequality leads to higher trust in physicians. The second macro-level hypothesis is that greater physician density leads to higher trust in physicians.

Findings

The authors found that the influence of individual and macro-level characteristics varies between trust types. Results indicate that both trust types are clearly associated with individual-level determinants. However, only general trust in physicians has weak associations with macro-level indicators (mainly physician density) and therefore on institutional cross-country differences. It seems that particularised trust in a physician’s skills is more restricted to the individuals’ health and their own experiences meeting doctors, whereas general trust likely reflects attitudes towards the prevalent profession in the country.

Originality/value

The findings hold significance for healthcare systems research and for research concerning social trust generally.

Keywords

Citation

Saarinen, A.O., Räsänen, P. and Kouvo, A. (2016), "Two dimensions of trust in physicians in OECD-countries", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 48-61. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHCQA-04-2015-0041

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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