Who do you trust the most in America? Nurses, pharmacists, doctors, and police officers. Who’s least trusted? Elected officials in Congress, car salesmen, stockbrockers, and…HMO managers.

Gallup‘s annual Honesty and Ethics of Professions poll is out and finds that health providers and front-line health workers rank highest in the nation.

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say nurses have the highest integrity, followed by 2 in 3 Americans ranking pharmacists and doctors as high or very high.

Integrity grades aren’t so high, though, for chiropractors and psychiatrists, ranked very high or high in ethics among 34% and 33% of Americans, respectively.

Negative perceptions have exacerbated among several professions in the past few years: the most dramatic declines have been in Congress and financial services.

The chart shows the high “low” and “very low” scores among the worst-regarded workers — note that HMO managers are ranked low by 43% of Americans, a similar low score with insurance salespeople. Only car salesmen, Congressfolk, and stockbrokers have higher percentages of low scores.

Gallup conducted the telephone survey with 1,017 adults 18 and older in November 2009.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Health providers and front-line health workers enjoy high integrity marks among Americans. Congresspeople were major losers when it comes to honesty and ethics.

Integrity breeds trust. Americans en masse clearly trust the professionals who personally care for their health: the nurse in the doctor’s office, hospital or clinic; the pharmacist who dispenses their behind-the-counter prescription drugs; and, their personal physicians.

These are the highest-valued relationships in U.S. health care. Americans don’t tend to trust the executives who run health plans (“HMOs” as named in the Gallup survey).

When looking to motivate healthy behaviors and choices among Americans, public policy should at least do-no-harm. Policy should further bolster the relationships between the valued professions and health citizens through fair reimbursement, infrastructure investment (e.g., health IT and support for implementation), and other sound public policies that will help to ensure these positive relationships hold over time.

As for health plan execs and their relationships with American health consumers…they have their trust-work cut out for them.

2 Comments on Health workers are most trusted profession – except for HMO managers

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn said : Guest Report 13 years ago

Ted, thanks for your close read of this survey. You are absolutely right that the professions break-out leaves something to be desired: not apples to apples. I wasn't involved in the survey methodology or I would have advised Gallup on a better typology for a range of health professionals.Nonetheless, Harris Interactive surveys have pointed out that health insurance (generally speaking)has been ranking lower than health professionals for many years. The health insurance industry overall must do a better job communicating its value. I know that's ironic given that health insurance is a benefit that employees highly value in the theoretical, but the demonization of the industry continues...JSK

Ted Eytan said : Guest Report 13 years ago

Hi Jane,As always, you always point out the most interesting information which is why HealthPopuli is in my special "RSS Feeds that I read on my iPhone" category...This survey methodology, though, seems to leave something to be desired, though, don't you think?If you compare "nurse, doctor" and "HMO Managers" I bet you'll get the same result as comparing "your mail carrier" and "Government bureaucrat" or "hairstylist" and "cosmetics executive."I think the labels deliver a question that's asked and answered in this case. It's not clear that HMO managers should spend time earning trust - all health care organizations (and all organizations) need managers. Adding the loaded "HMO" term seems a bit partisan in this case.I think the difference between managers in health care and managers in any other industry is that they work with a very revered part of the workforce, as you point out, and they can contribute a lot by helping those professionals perform for their patients, by delivering them timely information, supporting personal relationships, and promoting health.Thoughts?Keep on being a great read,Ted

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