PURPOSE: Trust is foundational to the patient-physician relationship. However, there is limited information on the patient characteristics and behaviors that are related to patient trust. We investigated whether the time patients spend researching their physician and/or symptoms before a clinic visit was correlated with patient trust in their hand surgeon.METHODS: We conducted a prospective study of new patients (n= 134) who presented to a hand surgery clinic. We tested the null hypothesis that time spent researching the physician or symptom does not correlate with physician trust. Secondarily, we tested the association of a maximizing personality (a decision-making personality type defined as one who exhaustively searches for the "best option" as opposed to a "satisficer" who settles for the "good enough" decision) with time spent researching the hand surgeon and patient symptoms, general self-efficacy (one's ability tomanage adversity), and patient trust. Patients completed a questionnaire assessing demographics, patient researching behavior, general self-efficacy (GSE-6), maximizing personality(Maximization Short Form), and physician trust (Trust in Physician Form).RESULTS: The average age of our cohort was 50 ± 17 years, and men and women were equally represented. Patients spent more time researching their symptoms (median, 60 min; range, 5-1,201 min) than they did researching their physician (median, 20 min; range, 1-1,201 min). There was no correlation between time spent by patients seeking information on their hand surgeon and/or symptoms with patient trust in their physician. However, female patients were significantly more trusting of their physician than male patients.CONCLUSIONS: Most patients research their symptoms before clinic, whereas about half research their physicians before meeting them. Time spent seeking information before clinic was not correlated with patient trust in their physician. However, in our study, female patients were more likely to trust their hand surgeon than male patients. Thus, modifying physician behavior rather than patient characteristics may be a stronger driver of patient trust.TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic IV.
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