Putting your Trust in the system Or Putting Your Trust In A Colleague?!

By | 19th August 2019


Who do you trust? A common question we face, but a difficult one to answer.

It is difficult to place trust and this takes time. Yet, in healthcare, there has to be a level of trust from the get-go, as patient care is the top priority and the only way we deliver better healthcare, is if there is trust amongst healthworkers but also between themselves and patients. How is it possible to trust someone you barely know, compared to a friend you have known for years?

I can’t answer these questions for you now, unless you fancy emailing me and we go for a lovely full funded weekend retreat and discuss such wonderful ideas, just don’t forget to find the funder! Anyhow, the issue of trust has been raised in a recent paper in the journal. Dimitra Sifaki-Pistolla and colleagues at the University of Crete aimed to further understand the perceptions of health-care professionals regarding trust and performance within their working team. The authors used a questionnaire based model and surveyed 234 participants out of the 240 cohorts of professionals operating in the Surgical and Anaesthesiology departments of the two hospitals. Trust was found to be directly linked to performance and in two hospital sites, this link was strong. Yet, differences were found between hospital settings, with surgeons in one hospital having higher trusts levels than in the other. No surprise to see the authors identify that trust, working years, and number of team members are considered key predictors of effective team performance, however, it is important to see data that shows this, and the authors successfully demonstrate this.

This reminds me of the recent scandal in the UK where patient care was compromised due to a ‘toxic atmosphere’ and trust had to have played a role, as differences between cardiac surgeons led to the  development of such a dangerous atmosphere. Differences will occur from team to team, site to site, but it is how we address them and improve upon them.

This study focuses on surgeons and anaesthetic teams. Would the results be the same for other disciplines? Different organizational structures in hosptials play a role, hence the difference between hospital sites. Nevertheless, this paper creates a conversation with data behind it, and by identifying barriers and facilitators of effective teamwork, trust is of major importance to enhanced collaboration and better patient care.