Interpersonal trust in doctor-patient relation: Evidence from dyadic analysis and association with quality of dyadic communication

S. Petrocchi*, Serena Petrocchi*, Paola Iannello, F. Lecciso, Flavia Lecciso, A. Levante, Alessandro Antonietti, P. J. Schulz

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale. Although they form a dyadic relationship, doctor's and patient's levels of trust in the other have usually been investigated separately. As members of dyadic relationships, they influence each other's behaviors and are interdependent because they share a past history and eventually a common future. Objectives. The aim of this paper was to examine the composition of trust in doctor-patients relationship and estimate its association with quality of doctor's communication. One-With-Many analyses (OWM) were used to examine the composition of trust variance into “doctor and patient effects”, “relationship effects”, and “reciprocity effects,” taking into account the interdependence of the data. Method. Twelve General Practitioners (GPs; Mage = 54.16, SD = 12.28, 8 men) and 189 of their patients (Mage = 47.48, SD = 9.88, 62% women) took part in the study. GPs and their patients completed postconsultation questionnaires on trust and quality of communication. Results. The findings revealed that “doctor” and “patient” effects were significant. However, the most important part of the variance was attributable to the relationship and reciprocity effects, meaning that if a doctor reported high trust in a particular patient, then the patient reported a similarly high level of trust. Higher quality of communication was positively associated to those relationship effects of trust. Conclusions. Our study stresses the importance to investigate trust in doctor-patients relationship as a dyadic and interdependent phenomenon applying appropriate methodological design and analysis. Convergence between doctor's and patients' perceptions of their relationship may enhance trust more than conventional intervention and may ultimately contribute to better health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • Dyadic analysis
  • Interpersonal trust
  • One-with-many
  • Quality of communication


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