Trust in the Doctor-Patient Relationship
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Philosophy Honors Theses; 2010
Recent work on medical ethics has increasingly focused on the relationship of trust that exists between doctor and patient. That work has largely argued that trust must involve more than a judgment about mere reliability. Rather, the trust relationship implies something about the good will or intentions of the person being trusted. Trust in one's doctor then implies that one believes the doctor to be not just reliable, but to have good will toward the patient. Surprisingly, this claim about the character of trust has not been directly incorporated into, or tested by, traditional models of the doctor-patient relationship designed to capture its essential elements and to provide guidance about how it ought to proceed. Some of the traditional models, elaborated originally without explicit reference to trust, include the technical, paternalistic, teacher-pupil, and contractual models. In each case, we might ask two questions: (1) what notion of trust -- mere reliability or something more, including good will -- is relevant to the working of the model and (2) does attention to issues of trust reveal the model to be simply inadequate as an account of the doctor-patient relationship. These issues might include, on one hand, a concern merely with good health outcomes, and on the other hand, a concern with the personal responsibility or special moral obligation of doctors. This paper will address questions related to trust in the doctor-patient relationship.