(HealthDay News) — Americans are less trusting of the medical profession than people in many other countries — even though they often like their own doctor, according to a new report.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
For the study, the research team looked at several public polls on health care from the past 4 decades. One, done by an international consortium of universities, surveyed people in 29 developed countries between 2011 and 2013.
In that poll, the United States was tied for 24th place (with Croatia) when it came to trust in the medical profession. Overall, 58% of Americans agreed with the statement: “All things considered, doctors [in your country] can be trusted.”
That compared with three-quarters or more of the populations in countries including Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France.
Yet, the United States shot up to third place (behind Switzerland and Denmark) when people were asked to rate their last doctor visit. Fifty-six percent said they were “completely” or “very” satisfied with their care.
There was, however, an economic divide. Only 48% of lower-income Americans (defined as a family income of less than $30,000) gave their doctor high satisfaction ratings vs. 59% of people with higher incomes.
Report author Robert Blendon, ScD, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said other polls have shown that Americans see soaring health care costs as a huge issue for the country. And low-income people face particular obstacles.
“Medical leaders need to take clear stands on issues important to low-income Americans — like opposing budget cuts to community health centers,” Blendon told HealthDay.