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J Adv Nurs. 2001 Oct;36(2):282-93.

An exploration and advancement of the concept of trust.

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School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, 600 Centerview Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.



Trust is a concept used both in everyday language and in the scientific realm. An exploration of the conceptualizations of trust within the disciplines of nursing, medicine, psychology and sociology, revealed that trust is an ambiguous scientific concept.


In order to increase the pragmatic utility of the concept of trust for scientific application, further clarification and development of the concept was undertaken.


First, a concept analysis was conducted with the aim of clarifying the state of the science of discipline-specific conceptualizations of trust. The criterion-based method of concept analysis as described by Morse and colleagues was used (Morse et al. 1996a, 1996b, Morse 2000). This analytic process enabled the assessment of the scientific maturity of the concept of trust. The interdisciplinary concept of trust was found to be immature. Based on this level of maturity it was determined that in order to advance the concept of trust toward greater maturity, techniques of concept development using the literature as data were applied. In this process, questions were "asked of the data" (in this case, the selected disciplinary literatures) to identify the conceptual components of trust.


The inquiry into the concept of trust led to the development of an expanded interdisciplinary conceptual definition by merging the most coherent commonalties from each discipline.


The newly developed interdisciplinary conceptualization advances the concept toward maturity, that is, a more refined, pragmatic and higher-order concept. The refined concept of trust transcends the contextual boundaries of each discipline in a truly interdisciplinary scientific fashion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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