Gallup ethics 12-13Who do you trust? If you’re a member of the middle of the U.S. normal bell curve, you’re thinking “nurses.” 8 in 10 Americans put nurses at the top of the ethics list, a question that Gallup has frequently surveyed since 1976.

Nurses have ranked highest in honesty and ethics in America since Gallup began included the profession in the poll in 1999 (except for 2001, when firefighters were #1 post 9/11).

Tied for second place this year are pharmacists and grade school teachers (with 70% of U.S. adults ranking them with high ethical standards), closely followed by doctors and military officers with 69% positive ethics ratings.

At the bottom of the list are lobbyists, with 6% of Americans believing they have high ethics; members of Congress with 8%; car salespeople at 9%; and, with 14% of people believing they have high ethics, state officeholders and advertising practitioners.

Newspaper and TV reporters rank fairly low on ethical standards, with 21% and 20% of people saying those media players have high ethical standards.

Gallup polled U.S. adults in early December 2013, asking people to rate the honesty and ethical standards of members of various professions.

Trust is Most Important Factor in Health EngagementHealth Populi’s Hot Points:  As the U.S. health system seeks to engage more people in self-care and more active roles in health, it’s doctors who are most often seen as the trusted intermediary to deliver messages and tools to people, well and sick.

Gallup reminds us of the high-trust quotient that nurses enjoy. That goodwill between people and nurses can be tapped to evangelize and inspire greater activation and engagement in health.

The challenge is that nurses need clones: as the supply of primary care is increasingly strained with the expected influx of newly-insured people, and existing maldistribution of primary care providers (PCPs) throughout the U.S., nurses are in great demand to extend the physician supply.

Trust is the key precursor to people choosing to engage with particular stakeholders in health, we learned from the Edelman Health Engagement Barometer snapshot shown in the second graph. With nurses as the #1 trusted player in the health ecosystem, they should be nurtured, valued, and supported in this consumer-directed health era. The trustworthy pharmacist, too, will play a growing role as a community-based health advocate for patients and their growing role in DIY health care.