Support for immigration reduction and physician distrust in the United States.SAGE Open Med 2016; 4:2050312116652567SO
Health research indicates that physician trust in the United States has declined over the last 50 years. Paralleling this trend is a decline in social capital, with researchers finding a negative relationship between immigration-based diversity and social capital. This article examines whether physician distrust is also tied to immigration-based diversity and declining social capital.
Data come from the 2012 General Social Survey, one of the gold standards of US public opinion surveys, using a national probability sample of 1080 adult US respondents. Key measures included support for reducing levels of immigration to the United States and multiple measures of physician trust.
The results of ordinary least squares regressions, using survey weights, indicate that support for reducing immigration is positively linked to physician distrust, bringing physician distrust into the orbit of research on diversity and declining social capital. Models controlled for age, education, income, gender, race, nativity, conservatism, unemployed status, lack of health insurance, and self-rated health. Furthermore, analyses of a subset of respondents reveal that measures of general trust and some forms of institutional trust do not explain away the association between support for immigration reduction and physician distrust, though confidence in science as an institution appears relevant.
Consistent with diversity and social capital research, this article finds that an immigration attitude predicts physician distrust. Physician distrust may not be linked just to physician-patient interactions, the structure of the health care system, or health policies, but could also be tied to declining social trust in general.