• Vol. 36 No. 8, 655–661
  • 15 August 2007

Public Trust in Primary Care Doctors, the Medical Profession and the Healthcare System among Redhill Residents in Singapore



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Introduction: There have been few studies on public trust in doctors and healthcare systems and this is the first in Singapore. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out in Redhill in January 2005. Citizens or Permanent Residents aged ≥18 years were randomly selected, one per household to avoid cluster bias, and 361 participated (response rate 68.7%). An interview administered questionnaire included 3 questionnaires measuring public trust: “Interpersonal Trust in Physicians Scale” for primary care doctors; “Trust in Physicians Generally Scale” for the medical profession; and “Trust in Healthcare System Scale” for the Healthcare System. Questions were answered on a Likert scale: 1. Strongly Disagree, 2. Disagree, 3. Neutral, 4. Agree, 5. Strongly Agree. Individual transformed scores of trust (range, 0 to 100) were equally divided into 5 categories with their average being the transformed mean. Results: Trust in primary care doctors (mean 59.7) had proportions (prevalence rates) of: very low 0.3%, low 2.5%, neutral 40.4%, high 54.0%, and very high 2.8%. Trust in the medical profession (mean 61.8) had proportions of: very low 1.0%, low 7.7%, neutral 33.7%, high 47.0%, and very high 10.5%. Trust in the healthcare system (mean 61.5) had proportions of: very low 0.5%, low 4.1%, neutral 40.0%, high 48.7%, and very high 6.7%. For areas of the healthcare system, proportions of high/very high trust were: “Healthcare Providers’ Expertise” (70.8%), “Quality of Care” (61.5%), “Patient Focus of Providers” (58.7%), “Information Supply and Communication by Care Providers” (52.3%), “Quality of Cooperation” (43.3%), and “Policies of the Healthcare System” (24.6%). Conclusions: While low proportions had low/very low trust, the high proportions with neutral trust and the rather low level of trust in “Policies of the Healthcare System” are causes for concern.

Trust is important in the doctor-patient relationship and healthcare delivery. In this regard, there are 3 objects of trust: the personal primary care doctor, the medical profession and the healthcare system. This study has examined these 3 objects of trust in Singapore.

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