Objective: To gain a better understanding of the role of interpersonal trust in veterinarian-client interactions during routine health-care visits, develop a measure of trust uniquely suited to the context of veterinary medicine, and interpret the actions, beliefs, and perceptions that capture client trust toward veterinarians.
Design: Correlational study.
Sample: 103 veterinary students and 19 standardized clients with pets from a college of veterinary medicine at a large public Midwestern university.
Procedures: A measure of trust specific to veterinarian-client interactions was constructed on the basis of preexisting conceptualizations of the construct and administered to veterinary students and standardized clients following interactions in 2 medical scenarios in a high-fidelity simulated animal health clinic. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analytic techniques were used to validate the measure of trust, and hierarchic linear modeling was used to explore indicators of standardized client trust perceptions in one of the scenarios.
Results: Factor analysis revealed that the measure captured 2 perceptions indicative of trust in veterinary contexts: professionalism and technical candor. Students who had behaviors reflecting these factors as well as those who were perceived as more technically competent were seen as more trustworthy by standardized clients.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: The development of trustworthy relationships between clients and veterinarians is important to the continued growth and success of the profession. By identifying characteristics of veterinarian trustworthiness and developing related measurement tools, proactive approaches to monitoring veterinarian-client relations can be implemented and incorporated into veterinary training and practice programs to identify areas for improvement.