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Frank Reynold

Trust me, I’m a Doctor! Views of Some Irish Patients

Frank Reynold

Since early times, physicians have identified that the kind of relation a patient has with his doctor is a key element in the quality of treatment delivered. So, when the patient builds trust with patient, the latter has high chances of recovery. Hence, the doctor’ knowledge and competence is not the only important factor but also the environment of trust that would link a doctor and a patient. This is what can stem confidence in a patient to engage and benefit fully of the health care.

A recent study carried by a group of researchers at the Irish College of General Practitioners and published in a Journal of Medicinal Chemistry Research has assessed this relation between patients and their doctors and more particularly between Irish patients and their General Practitioners (GP).

The study was part of a general studies carried in 23 European countries including Ireland. These studies led by the French College National des Généralistes Enseignants (CNGE) aimed at identifying patients’ representations of their general practitioners.

In their way to identify the nature of this relationship, the study tried to answer the question if Irish patients trust their local General Practitioner? The study stated that “the gaining of trust is a function of, among a myriad of factors, confidence, reliability and time embodied mostly in the continuity of personal care – a continued caring relationship between the patient and the physician.”

The study affirmed that “when asked about their GP in terms of competence, academic qualifications and experience to date, all participants replied that while free to do so, they did not once question their GP in terms of these areas.” Something researchers found as a “measure of confidence … in both the GP as an individual, and also in the wider system that trains physicians in Ireland.”

The researchers have assumed that “the GP and the Irish medical institution of general practice appear to have avoided the contagion of transcended distrust from other institutions and have maintained their strong trust relationship among this sample of patients.”

When the patient questions the doctor’s competence, then there’s no place left for trust. Researchers noticed that “while participants felt they could do so, overall the vast majority of participants never felt inclined to question the decisions or diagnoses made by their GP with, reflecting perhaps a level of dependency, the general feeling among patients being that failure to trust in this instance will leave the individual coping with further discomfort and uncertainty; ‘if you don’t trust them, then where are you?’” the study stated. 

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