Technology, autos, food and consumer products — two-thirds of people around the globe trust these four industries the most. The least trusted sectors are media, banks and financial services.

Welcome to the twelfth annual poll of the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, gauging global citizens’ perspectives on institutions and their trustworthiness.

This survey marks the largest decline in trust in government in the 12 years the Barometer has polled peoples’ views.

Interestingly, trust in government among US citizens stayed stable.

The top-line finds a huge drop in global citizens’ trust in government, with a smaller decline for business. There’s an interplay between these two forces: consumers call for increased government regulation over business due to public perception of irresponsible behavior — think financial crises in Greece and Portugal, food scares in the US food supply, and drug company quality issues in manufacturing plants.

The level of public trust in all industries fell or stayed flat. Of particular note to Health Populi readers is that trust in pharmaceutical companies fell from 61% of people believing the industry “does what is right” in 2011 to 56% in 2012. This was the largest percentage point drop across all 11 industries surveyed.

Who do we trust, then? Not CEOs and government officials. Instead, globally, people on the street trust experts, peers and “regular employees.” It’s trust in peers and employees that have substantially increased since 2004 — by 22 points for “people like me” and by 16 points for “regular employees.”

Furthermore, while trust in media isn’t tremendous, people trust in consuming several media sources to get informed.

And it’s social media that’s gained the most in percentage points compared with traditional news media. Nonetheless, traditional news media still rank first in trust vs. other sources of information about companies: 32% of people trust traditional news media, compared with 26% consuming multiple online sources, 14% trusting social media, and 16% trusting corporate sources.

Richard Edelman refers to this phenomenon as the “dispersion of authority.”

The survey was conducted among 25,000 online adults in October and November 2011, oversampling “informed publics” — people with college educations in the top quarter of income in their countries, who consume business media and follow issues in the news several times a week.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Edelman’s prescription for re-building trust for organizations, public and private, are to practice “radical transparency” and to shape the public discourse, getting out in front of the news.

These implications are particularly important for stakeholders in health and health care. For health citizens to engage in health, they must first trust the organization with whom they’re considering engaging. Then, they must find that organization’s ‘voice’ authentic. This two precursors to engagement, trust and authenticity, were discovered in the 2008 Edelman Health Engagement Barometer.

Greater health engagement breeds better health outcomes, based on meta-analyses conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others.

How to practice radical transparency in health care? By providing, fully disclosing prices, quality indicators, and making services as accessible as possible and practical. In the US, we expect to have Health Insurance Exchanges in place in 2014 that will array health providers’ and plans’ services and products in these terms; that will force transparency through regulation, and that regulation is none other than the Affordable Care Act.

What of shaping the public discourse in health? This requires engaging with patients in dialogue. Social media platforms can enable this discourse, among other strategies. It will take integrating media, messages and technology platforms to engage health citizens where and how they seek their personal brands of health engagement.