The acceptability of healthcare: from satisfaction to trust

Dyer Thomas Anthony (Lead), Janine Owens, Peter G Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The assessment of healthcare quality increasingly emphasises lay acceptability, as evidenced by the emergence of patient satisfaction and patient-centred care in the literature and in policy. In this paper we aim to provide a conceptual overview of acceptability and propose ways to enhance its assessment. Firstly, we map how acceptability’s importance in quality assessments has increased and how the term acceptability has been used as synonymous with patient satisfaction, despite it being a broader concept. We then critique the concept of patient satisfaction and its measurement and challenge its use as an indicator of acceptability and quality. By drawing on our research and those of others, the second half of the paper describes how trust in clinicians and health services has emerged as a related concept, including a theoretical discussion of trust in healthcare outlining how it can be built, undermined and abused. We propose trust as an alternative indicator of acceptability in healthcare quality and review its measurement. Finally, we consider how healthcare policy may impact on trust and make recommendations for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-251
Number of pages9
JournalCommunity Dent Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


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