Cracked cement symbolizing broken trust between people or parties


Trust in Health Care and Science: Toward Common Ground on Key Concepts

Abstract: This essay summarizes key insights across the essays in the Hastings Center Report’s special report “Time to Rebuild: Essays on Trust in Health Care and Science.” These insights concern trust and trustworthiness as distinct concepts, competence as a necessary but not sufficient input to trust, trust as a reciprocal good, trust as an interpersonal as well as structural phenomena, the ethical impermissibility of seeking to win trust without being trustworthy, building and borrowing trust as distinct strategies, and challenges to trustworthiness posed by the contingent nature of science. Together, these insights stand to advance an area of research that we believe has been historically stymied by conceptual confusion and a long-standing insistence on treating trust as a purely instrumental good.

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