Do patients trust their physician? the role of attachment style in the patient-physician relationship within one year after a cancer diagnosis

Nynke Holwerda, Robbert Sanderman, Grieteke Pool, Chris Hinnen, Johannes A. Langendijk, Willem A. Bemelman, Mariët Hagedoorn, Mirjam A.G. Sprangers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. The degree of trust in and satisfaction with the physician has been shown to have important implications for treatment outcomes. This study aims to examine individual differences in patients’ trust, satisfaction and general distress from an attachment theoretical perspective. Material and methods. One hundred and thirty recently diagnosed cancer patients of three medical hospitals were extensively interviewed by trained psychologists to assess attachment style. Patients completed standardized questionnaires three and nine months after diagnosis to assess trust, satisfaction and distress. t-tests and repeated measures ANOVAs were used to examine differences between securely and insecurely attached patients and changes over time. A mediation model based on a bootstrapping method was used to examine whether trust mediated between attachment and satisfaction, and attachment and distress. Results. Insecurely attached patients (N = 45, 35%) reported less trust in and satisfaction with their physician, and reported more general distress than securely attached patients three and nine months after diagnosis (p < 0.05). Trust and distress levels did not change over time. Trust mediated between attachment and satisfaction, but not between attachment and distress. Conclusion. Insecurely attached patients trusted their physician less than securely attached patients, and in turn were less satisfied with their physician. Their higher levels of general distress were not related to their lower levels of trust. Attachment theory provides a framework to interpret differences in patients’ trust, satisfaction and distress, and may help physicians respond in such a way that their patients feel secure, which in turn is expected to result in better health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-117
JournalActa oncologica
Volume52
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • METIS-304988
  • IR-91715

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