Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that in their first encounters with patients, specialists engender high levels of trust (79%), but that trust levels were lower for black patients (63%) than for white patients (81%).
The survey involved 424 patients who visited a particular cardiologist, gastroenterologist, nephrologist, neurologist or rheumatologist for the first time. For about 60% of the patients sampled, the encounter was the first time they'd ever seen a specialist of any kind.
"Even though an 80% level of trust is pretty good ... we could do better," said lead researcher Nancy Keating, M.D.
The survey found those physicians who established higher levels of trust had patients who said they had positive experiences. "Physicians overestimate the amount of information they give patients and underestimate the amount that patients want," Keating said.