Lower Levels of Trust in the Medical Profession among White, Younger, and More-educated Individuals with Cancer

Stephen Grant, Kaiping Liao, Christopher Miller, Susan Peterson, Linda Elting, B. Ashleigh Guadagnolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Levels of medical mistrust have historically been higher among racial/ethnic minority patients compared with whites, largely owing to societal and health system inequities and history of discrimination or experimentation. However, recently trust in physicians has declined in the United States in general. We investigated trust in physicians among a large cohort of cancer patients residing in Texas. Methods: A sample of recently diagnosed cancer patients in Texas were identified from the Texas Cancer Registry with 1344 patients returning surveys between March 2017 and March 2020. The multiscale inventory was mailed to each individual and included the Trust in the Medical Profession Scale which assesses levels of agreement with 11 trust-related statements. Multivariable linear regression models were constructed to assess the adjusted relationship between trust in the medical profession aggregate score and sociodemographic and clinical factors. Results: A total of 1250 surveys were evaluable for trust in the medical profession. The mean aggregate trust score for all patients was 37.3 (95% confidence interval: 36.8-37.7). Unadjusted trust scores were higher for Hispanic (40.5) and black (38.2) respondents compared with white (36.4) (P<0.001). Multivariable analyses showed white, younger, more-educated, or those with lower levels of self-reported health estimated toward lower adjusted scores for trust in the medical profession. Conclusions: We observed relatively higher levels of medical mistrust among white, younger, more-educated individuals with cancer or those with poorer health. While the relatively higher trust among minority individuals is encouraging, these findings raise the possibility that recent societal trends toward mistrust in science may have implications for cancer care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-157
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • cancer
  • mistrust
  • race
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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