Distrust of the Health Care System and Self-Reported Health in the United States

Distrust of the health care system and the extent to which it is related to self-reported health were examined in the current study. Random digit dialing telephone surveys were conducted with a national sample of 961 adults. Factors such as primary physician trust and access to health care also were investigated.

Key Findings:

  • Participants reported a mean score of 30.5 (range 10 to 50) on the Distrust of the Health Care System scale.
  • There was a negative relationship between health care system distrust and trust in primary physicians.
  • Even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, access to health care and physician trust, health care system distrust was positively related to self-reported health.
  • As a standardized score for distrust increased by one point, there was a 40 percent increase in the odds of fair and poor health for participants.
  • Health care distrust was highest for participants aged 31 to 60 years and individuals who were without health insurance. These relationships held even when multiple variables were adjusted for in the analysis.
  • There was no significant variation by race on health care system distrust. There was also no significant relationship between health care system distrust and sociodemographic factors such as education or income.