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Why Do We Trust Doctors? Why Do We Trust Doctors?

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Restoration Calls

Why Do We Trust Doctors?

April 26, 2012

Americans have plenty of reasons not to trust their doctors.

For starters, there’s no great Consumer Reports metric for picking one--no crash-test ratings or on-time arrival percentage. There’s also the Internet, which can flood patients with information about what ails them, and what should cure them, with the effect of sowing doubt about every prescription a doctor offers.

But despite all that--and despite the fact that Americans have lost huge amounts of trust in politicians, churches, schools, news organizations, and other crucial social institutions--we still trust our doctors. And that’s a really good thing: More trusting patients get better medical outcomes, research shows.

 

National Journal’s Restoration Calls project is exploring our faith in institutions throughout April. This week, Margot Sanger-Katz examines how doctors have continued to hold public trust, even among patients who have suffered at their hands. The answer is surprisingly human--and one everyone can learn from.

—Jim Tankersley  

P.S.--National Journal Editor in Chief Ron Fournier appeared on MSNBC to discuss last week’s Restoration Calls installment, In Nothing We Trust. Check out the video.

 

Why We Trust Doctors
Mary Morse-Dwelley has undergone 22 abdominal operations, endured infections, spent more than 100 consecutive days in the hospital, and lived for nearly two years in bed. Yet somehow, she never lost faith in her doctor—and polls show she’s not alone in that belief, as National Journal’s Margot Sanger-Katz reports.

Even a Mortician Finds Washington Humorless
One thing Rep. Steve Southerland has noticed since coming to Washington last year is that people in the halls of Congress don’t laugh nearly as much as those who visit his family business. Which is odd, writes National Journal’s Ben Terris, because his family owns a funeral home. “Congress could learn something from that,” Southerland said.

The Young Trust the U.N.—More Than the U.S.
An interesting tidbit from a recent Harvard poll: Young people trust the United Nations more than they trust the United States to solve the world's problems. 

Our Politics, Gone to the Dogs
The recent war over what Obama ate as a 6-year-old is American politics at its worst, writes The Atlantic’s Matt O’Brien. It’s also the logical, depressing destination of politics at warp speed.

Dangerous Mix of Distrust and Hyper-Polarization 
National Journal’s
Rebecca Kaplan attended a lecture on the Third Reich and was struck by something: Should we be worried about our gridlocked government, our failing institutions, and the current climate of hyper-partisan polarization in American politics?

A Downside to Trustful Communities
High-trust communities have their downsides. There tends to be more trust in homogeneous, economically stable communities--a vision of America that doesn't reflect the diversity and dynamism seen as a valuable, even necessary, ingredient for growth.

Political Activism Shouldn't Be Fun
So far, the Occupy movement has failed to define an agenda, and one of the reasons may be that it's having too much fun, as National Journal’s Sophie Quinton writes.

FOLLOW UP: IN NOTHING WE TRUST

Last week’s installment of Restoration Calls, In Nothing We Trust, explored the waning faith in American institutions. Here’s more on the subject.

Sorry, Johnny, We Can't Turn Back the Clock
Johnny Whitmire was the central figure in our cover story about the loss of faith in our institutions. As National Journal’s Ron Fournier writes, much of what he said was left out of the story. Here is more.

Why Muncie Is Middletown and More
Why choose Muncie to tell a story about America? Because its two worlds perfectly encapsulate our country: the globally and technologically connected north side that contains Ball State University, and the downtrodden south side, that contains abandoned auto factories and decaying neighborhoods.

Chat Wrap-Up: Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton
The authors take questions on their story, In Nothing We Trust.

 

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