Christian and Secular Dimensions of the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Trust in the doctor-patient relationship is an indispensable structural element for the medical profession. The discourse concerning trust and its importance in the healthcare context, although quite old, elicits increasingly more interest in research, especially for empirical approaches. The importance of trust in the doctor and in the medical profession can be demonstrated by starting from the Christian meaning of illness and medicine; generally, the patristic sources see medicine and physicians as God's gifts. The perception of Christian physicians as dedicated, unselfish and compassionate preservers or restorers of health, always committed to the good of their patients is well known. The model of the Christian physician is a Hippocratic model, of one who seeks the sick so that he may bring relief to them and strengthen them. When illness occurs, Christianity affirms an ethical duty to struggle against sickness, which if unaddressed can lead to death. The moral requirement to care for the health of the body indicates it is appropriate to use healing methods that will enhance health and maintain life. The aim of this paper is to explore the dimensions of the concept of trust in the doctor-patient relationship, by starting from the Christian meaning of illness and of the role of the doctor. The paper presents a number of essential theoretical elements related to trust, as presented in the literature dealing with the doctor-patient relationship: the meaning of trust, its dimensions, its stages of development, its impact, its sources, the patient?s perspectives on trust, the importance of trust for healthcare systems.
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