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BMC Health Serv Res. 2006 Oct 23;6:139.

Consumer satisfaction with primary care provider choice and associated trust.

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  • 1School of Health Information Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



Development of managed care, characterized by limited provider choice, is believed to undermine trust. Provider choice has been identified as strongly associated with physician trust. Stakeholders in a competitive healthcare market have competing agendas related to choice. The purpose of this study is to analyze variables associated with consumer's satisfaction that they have enough choice when selecting their primary care provider (PCP), and to analyze the importance of these variables on provider trust.


A 1999 randomized national cross-sectional telephone survey conducted of United States residential households, who had a telephone, had seen a medical professional at least twice in the past two years, and aged > or = 20 years was selected for secondary data analyses. Among 1,117 households interviewed, 564 were selected as the final sample. Subjects responded to a core set of questions related to provider trust, and a subset of questions related to trust in the insurer. A previously developed conceptual framework was adopted. Linear and logistic regressions were performed based on this framework.


Results affirmed 'satisfaction with amount of PCP choice' was significantly (p < .001) associated with provider trust. 'PCP's care being extremely effective' was strongly associated with 'satisfaction with amount of PCP choice' and 'provider trust'. Having sought a second opinion(s) was associated with lower trust. 'Spoke to the PCP outside the medical office,' 'satisfaction with the insurer' and 'insurer charges less if PCP within network' were all variables associated with 'satisfaction with amount of PCP choice' (all p < .05).


This study confirmed the association of 'satisfaction with amount of PCP choice' with provider trust. Results affirmed 'enough PCP choice' was a strong predictor of provider trust. 'Second opinion on PCP' may indicate distrust in the provider. Data such as 'trust in providers in general' and 'the role of provider performance information' in choice, though import in PCP choice, were not available for analysis and should be explored in future studies. Results have implications for rethinking the relationships among consumer choice, consumer behaviors in making trade-offs in PCP choice, and the role of healthcare experiences in 'satisfaction with amount of PCP choice' or 'provider trust.'

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