Research Update: Does Trustworthiness Matter?

In the March 2017 edition of the Patient Advisory Network newsletter, we told you about University of Washington PhD student Kate McGlone West’s research that is exploring what it means for a researcher to be trustworthy toward their community research partners and how researchers’ institutions can remove constraints on researchers that hinder their trustworthiness. A number of you participated, and we asked Kate to give us an update on her work.

In her initial survey, Kate found that 4 of the personal characteristics that she predicted to be important based on her previous work emerged as highly related to community partners perceiving researchers as trustworthy. Those areas were ethical, caring, respectful, and self-aware/vulnerable. Two additional characteristics came out of the survey data as well – putting the community first and being open to the community. Additionally, although the sample size for this first survey was too small to confirm association, it seems that those who live in urban areas tend to put more trust in researchers than those in rural areas. Other characteristics of community partners, such as age, race, gender didn’t show any effect on community partners finding researchers to be trustworthy. The community partners and researchers being the same race also didn’t have any effect on perceived trustworthiness. However, more research is needed to see if these community partner characteristics truly have no effect on perceived trustworthiness.

Kate is working on refining her survey based on these initial findings and will be launching a second round soon. If you are interested in providing input in the second round, reach out to Kate McGlone West at

Author: CERTAIN Patient Advisory Network

The CERTAIN Patient Advisory Network seeks to improve research by providing a way for patients to work in collaboration with researchers throughout the research process — from the identification of research questions to the communication of the results.

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