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Keywords:

  • Trust in health insurers;
  • HMOs;
  • managed care;
  • scale development

Objective. To develop a scale to measure patients' trust in health insurers, including public and private insurers and both indemnity and managed care. A scale was developed based on our conceptual model of insurer trust. The scale was analyzed for its factor structure, internal consistency, construct validity, and other psychometric properties.

Data Sources/Study Setting. The scale was developed and validated on a random national sample (n=410) of subjects with any type of insurance and further validated and used in a regional random sample of members of an HMO in North Carolina (n=1152).

Study Design. Factor analysis was used to uncover the underlying dimensions of the scale. Internal consistency was assessed by Cronbach's alpha. Construct validity was established by Pearson or Spearman correlations and t tests.

Data Collection. Data were collected via telephone interviews.

Principal Findings. The 11-item scale has good internal consistency (alpha=0.92/0.89) and response variability (range=11–55, M=36.5/37.0, SD=7.8/7.0). Insurer trust is a unidimensional construct and is related to trust in physicians, satisfaction with care and with insurer, having enough choice in selecting health insurer, no prior disputes with health insurer, type of insurer, and desire to remain with insurer.

Conclusions. Trust in health insurers can be validly and reliably measured. Additional studies are required to learn more about what factors affect insurer trust and whether differences and changes in insurer trust affect actual behaviors and other outcomes of interest.