To discover ways that the biomedical research community can foster the public's trust essential to sustain the research enterprise, in 2005 the authors and their colleagues convened a group of national leaders from sectors outside of academic science and health care that are also dependent on the public's trust. These leaders provided information about what their sectors do to earn the public's trust that is applicable to academic biomedical research institutions, as well as insights into ways academic research institutions should respond to crises that have the potential to diminish the public's trust. The major strategies they identified for promoting the public's trust were the importance of fostering multiple types of relationships and developing accountability practices that exceed those required by external regulators.
In this article, the authors compare these strategies with reports in the literature regarding efforts under way in health care to adapt strategies employed in other sectors to improve the safety of health care. On the basis of what the authors learned from both the national leaders outside of biomedical research and health care and the health care safety literature review, they present a set of recommendations for building and restoring trust, as well as a list of benchmarks for assessing the adequacy of efforts by research institutions to promote the public's trust in biomedical research.