Low Patient-to-Oncologist Trust Tied to Worse Outcomes

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Findings only seen in more anxiously attached patients in year following diagnosis.
Findings only seen in more anxiously attached patients in year following diagnosis.

Having a lower level of trust in one's physician is associated with more emotional distress and more physical limitations within the first 15 months after cancer diagnosis in more anxiously attached patients, according to a study published in the July issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.

Chris Hinnen, Ph.D., from Slotervaart Hospital in Amsterdam, and colleagues surveyed 119 patients with cancer (breast, cervical, intestinal, and prostate). The authors used the short version of the Wake Forest Physician Trust Scale to assess trust and the Experiences in Close Relationship Scale Revised to assess attachment at three months after diagnosis.

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Additionally, at three, nine, and 15 months after diagnosis, emotional distress and physical limitations were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and physical functioning subscales of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30, respectively.

The researchers found that in more anxiously attached patients lower levels of trust were associated with more emotional distress and greater physical limitations at three, nine, and 15 months after diagnosis. This association was not observed in less anxiously attached patients.

"These results indicate an attachment-dependent effect of trust in one's physician," the authors write.

  1. Hinnen, Chris, et al. "Lower levels of trust in one's physician is associated with more distress over time in more anxiously attached individuals with cancer." General Hospital Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2014.03.005. March 14, 2014.

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