USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)

First Advisor

Noel Takeuchi, Ph.D. Instructor, College of Arts and Sciences

Second Advisor

James McHale, Ph.D. Professor, College of Arts and Sciences

Third Advisor

Thomas W. Smith, Ph.D. Professor, College of Arts and Sciences


University of South Florida St. Petersburg



Document Type


Date Available


Publication Date


Date Issued



For a patient to efficiently communicate medical history and sensitive medical information, and to properly adhere to treatment plans put forward by his or her physician, a relationship of trust must be established. Data suggests that compassion and empathy shown by doctors, along with the encouragement they give their patients to play an active role in their treatment, contributes to the trust they earn. Outside the scope of the patient-physician interaction, multiple extrinsic factors play a role in the patients’ social trust of the physician and the institution of healthcare. This study aimed to gain a better understanding of areas in which trust in physicians remain strong and determine what elements of trust have weakened. Due to the longevity and continuity of the relationship, primary care physicians were the focus of this study. A 39-item 5-point Likert scaled survey was administered to 100 participants in the United States online via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Demographic characteristics such as gender, age, and form of health insurance were not significant. Primary care physician visits per year had a significant negative relationship to how participants responded to “I sometimes lie to my physician about drug or alcohol use.” It was also found that patients who understand their physician’s diagnosis and treatment were likely to follow their physician’s advice. While the average response to all items scored 2.98 (5-point scale from 0-4), multiple items were found to have a substantial amount of negative responses indicating there are still areas in which the trust present in physician-patient relationships can be improved, including feelings of being rushed and feelings that physicians could do more for these patient’s healthcare. However, these feelings did not have a significant impact on trust or satisfaction, future studies are needed to further explore these findings in order to derive practical applications from the relationship between these aspects of the physician-patient relationship.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Honors Program University of South Florida, St. Petersburg April 25rd, 2019.

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