Patient trust in health care providers is associated with better health behaviors and utilization, yet provider trust has not been consistently conceptualized. In this mixed methods study, we conducted 40 semi-structured interviews with a diverse sample of patients to identify the provider behaviors that build trust. We then analyzed a nationally representative survey (n = 6,517) to examine the relationship between respondents’ trust in their usual provider and the key trust-related behaviors identified in the qualitative interviews. Interviewees reported that health providers build trust by communicating effectively (listening and providing detailed explanations), caring about their patients (treating them as individuals, valuing their experience, and showing commitment to solving their health issues), and demonstrating competence (being knowledgeable, thorough, and solving their health issues). Trust in one’s provider was highly correlated with all eight survey items measuring communication, caring, and competence. To build trust with patients, health providers should actively listen, provide detailed explanations, show caring for patients, and demonstrate their knowledge.
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