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Ann Fam Med. 2006 May-Jun;4(3):247-52.

Development of a measure to assess patient trust in medical researchers.

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Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



Many researchers find it difficult to recruit individuals, particularly minorities, for participation in studies. Mistrust of research and researchers may act as a barrier to participation. The purpose of this study was to develop a scale for assessing trust in medical researchers.


We developed a multi-item scale by means of multiple cognitive pretests with 25 African American adults and a random-digit-dialing telephone survey of 512 adults in South Carolina. Psychometric characteristics of the Trust in Medical Researchers Scale was assessed by factor analysis using both orthogonal and oblique rotations and Cronbach's alpha. We assessed construct validity as well as a behavioral intention for future participation in a medical research project.


The results of the orthogonal and oblique rotations in the exploratory factor analysis were similar and suggested 2 distinct factors in the final 12 items included in the scale. Cronbach's alpha for the entire scale was 0.84, whereas it was 0.78 for the first factor of Participant Deception and 0.75 for the second factor of Researcher Honesty. White respondents (28.7 +/- 5.6) had greater trust than African American respondents (24.1 +/- 6.9) (P <.001). Individuals with high trust in medical researchers were more likely to express interest in future participation in medical research.


The Trust in Medical Researchers Scale has good psychometric qualities and differentiates African American from white respondents, as well as individuals who indicate that they are likely to participate in medical research from those who are not. More focused investigations in hard-to-recruit populations will help to establish the utility of the Trust in Medical Researchers Scale.

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