Exploring trust development in families of children towards surgical and emergency care providers: A scoping review of the literature



      Trust is central to the therapeutic relationship between patients and their providers, yet little is known about how it is developed in the unique context of children facing surgical emergencies. We sought to identify factors fostering trust development, gaps, and areas for improvement.


      We searched eight databases from inception to June 2021 to identify studies focusing on trust in pediatric surgical and urgent care settings. PRISMA-ScR protocols were followed, and screening carried out by two independent reviewers. Data collection included study characteristics, outcomes, and results.


      Out of 5,578 articles screened, 12 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Four major trust constructs were identified: competence, communication, dependability, and caring. Despite various instruments used, all studies reported a high level of parental trust. Nearly all studies (11/12) noted trust depending on parents’ sociodemographic background, with ethnicity (3/12) and level of education and language barriers (2/12) limiting parents’ confidence in physicians. High trust levels significantly correlated with effective communication and perceived quality of care. Most effective interventions enhancing trust included communication and caring trust constructs (10/12) rather than competence and dependability (5/12). Parents’ individual experiences, development of compassionate interactions, and practice of family‐centered care appeared important in developing trust.


      Improving communication and providing compassionate care, as well as encouraging a patient-centered approach, appear to be most effective in promoting trust in pediatric surgical and urgent settings. Our findings can guide future educational interventions towards strengthening parental trust and promoting child- and family-centered care in pediatric surgical settings.


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