Higher levels of institutional trust have been associated with increased preventive healthcare use, greater adherence to treatment plans, and improved overall self-rated health status. However, little attention has been paid to understanding approaches to improve patient institutional trust. This study used group concept mapping to elicit patient perspectives on ways to improve patient trust. Eighteen insured individuals living in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, participated in the concept mapping sessions. Participants first brainstormed in a group setting to develop a list of ideas about how systems could improve trust, then each participant sorted the ideas into thematic domains and rated the statements based on both importance and feasibility. Four primary domains for improving institutional trust emerged: privacy, patient–provider relationship, respect for patients, and health system guidelines. Multiple action items to improve patient trust of the system were provided for each domain, and participants rated the “privacy” domain as the most feasible and important to address.
We suggest that future local efforts to build institutional trust implement processes to improve the protection of patient privacy, support patient–provider relationships, and engender respect for patients, and that institutions develop system-level guidelines to support these principles. Next steps involve exploring the importance of these domains across other populations and developing and testing targeted interventions.