Protocol - Trust in Medical Researchers - 4-Item

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The Trust in Medical Researchers 4-Item scale is a validated, interviewer-administered, 4-item questionnaire. Items are scored 1-5, strongly disagree to strongly agree, with negative items reverse-coded so that higher scores indicate more trust.

Specific Instructions

Investigators may choose the 4-item scale over the 12-item scale in situations where they need an abbreviated scale and in order to reduce participant burden. The Trust in Medical Researchers scale has not been validated in non-U.S. populations.

The Trust in Medical Researchers scale is for academic and nonprofit purposes only. For documentation and instructions, contact bioethics@wfu.edu. If your intention is to use the protocol in a for-profit or commercial environment, please contact bioethics@wfu.edu to request permission and obtain licensing information before use. Also, a license is required for any research that is subject to 3rd-party rights (e.g., industry-sponsored research that grants rights to the sponsor). For permitted uses, you may make minor adaptations of the phrasing to fit particular circumstances or modes of survey administration. Otherwise, you may not translate or substantially modify the tool without additional permission. If a derivative work is created based on the scale, the work will be owned by Wake Forest University.




Trust in Medical Researchers 4-Item

Participants are first asked the following item regarding willingness to participate: “If you were approached by someone at the [university/institute] to participate in a study, how likely would you be to volunteer to participate in the next 3 months?” Responses were likely, somewhat likely, not likely, or not likely at all to participate.

1 2 3 4 5
Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly

4-Item Survey
No. Item Participant Responses
1 Fidelity: Doctors who do medical research care only about what is best for each patient. 1 2 3 4 5
2 Honesty: Doctors tell their patients everything they need to know about being in a research study. 1 2 3 4 5
3 Global: Medical researchers treat people like “guinea pigs.” 1 2 3 4 5
4 Global: I completely trust doctors who do medical research. 1 2 3 4 5

Scoring: The scores from the 4 items are summed unweighted, and 4 is subtracted from the total. The total will range from 4-20, with the higher the score the greater the trust in medical researchers. Item # 3 is reverse-coded.

Personnel and Training Required

The interviewer must be trained to conduct personal interviews with individuals from the general population. The interviewer should be trained to prompt respondents further if a “don’t know” response is provided. The interviewer must be found to be competent (i.e., performance approved by an expert) at the completion of the interviews.

Equipment Needs


Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Interviewer-administered questionnaire


Adult, Senior


Ages 18 and older

Selection Rationale

This is a low-burden protocol that allows investigators to assess trust in physicians doing medical research in addition to assessing trust in medical research or research generally.



Derived Variables


Process and Review

Not applicable

Protocol Name from Source

Trust in Medical Researchers - Short Form - Adult


Hall, M. A., Camacho, F., Lawlor, J. S., Depuy, V., Sugarman, J., & Weinfurt, K. (2006). Measuring trust in medical researchers. Medical Care, 44(11), 1048-1053.

General References

Dugan, E., Trachtenberg, F., & Hall, M. A. (2005). Development of abbreviated measures to assess patient trust in a physician, a health insurer, and the medical profession. BMC Health Services Research, 5, 64. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-5-64

Mainous, A. G., 3rd, Smith, D. W., Geesey, M. E., & Tilley, B. C. (2006). Development of a measure to assess patient trust in medical researchers. Annals of Family Medicine, 4(3), 247-252. doi:10.1370/afm.541

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX871102010000 "Fidelity: Doctors who do medical research more
care only about what is best for each patient." show less
PX871102040000 "Global: I completely trust doctors who do more
medical research." show less
PX871102030000 "Global: Medical researchers treat people more
like "guinea pigs."" show less
PX871102020000 "Honesty: Doctors tell their patients more
everything they need to know about being in a research study." show less
Psychosocial and Social Determinants of Health
Measure Name

Trust in Medical Care and Research

Release Date

February 6, 2023


This measure assesses adults’ trust in medical researchers.


To assess individuals’ trust of medical care and research as it relates to their concern with safety of research participant, fidelity of the purpose of conducting the research, and global trust in research and researchers.


Medical research; researchers

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
871101 Trust in Medical Researchers - 12-Item
871102 Trust in Medical Researchers - 4-Item

There are no publications listed for this protocol.