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Doctors Remain Most Trusted Profession

Published:2 October 2009
Fieldwork:4-10 September 2009
Sub-Theme:Trust in Professions
Source:Royal College of Physicians (RCP)
Keywords:Doctors, Health, Journalists, Politicians, RCP, Royal College of Physicians, Trust, Trust in experts, Veracity Index
(Click on keywords to find related Research)

Over the last quarter century, doctors have consistently been named the profession most trusted by the British public. In a year when trust in politicians and other public figures has declined significantly, more than nine in ten British adults trust doctors to tell the truth. Politicians on the other hand are at a 26 year low, with just 13% saying that they trust politicians to tell the truth, eight points down from just a year ago.

In this face-to-face survey conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), involving over 2,000 members of the general public aged 15+ in September 2009, 92% said they would trust doctors to tell the truth, the same proportion as when the survey was carried out in late 2008. Following closely behind were teachers (88%), professors (80%) and judges (80%), maintaining the high levels of trust seen for those professions in 2008.

At the other end of the scale, following months of negative publicity from the MP expenses controversy, politicians have replaced journalists as the profession believed to be least likely to tell the truth. Only 13% of the British public trusts politicians, a significant decline from 21% in 2008. Government ministers have also suffered a fall in confidence, with only 16% trusting them to tell the truth (down from 24%). Meanwhile, trust in journalists has increased slightly, up three percentage points to 22%.

Sir Robert Worcester, founder of MORI, says:

“MORI began tracking public trust in various occupations 25 years ago, and in all that time, doctors have been the one group trusted by the most people in this country. It is very difficult to do better than that, but over the years, people’s trust in doctors to tell the truth has risen from a low of 82% to these past two years 92%, a remarkable achievement.

"Politicians have not fared so well. They talk about ‘restoring trust in politicians’. I have news for them. For the past four or five years, only about one person in four has said they trust politicians to tell the truth, and prior to that, they hovered around the 15% mark, but this year, following the expenses scandal, broken by the national newspapers, chiefly the Telegraph and the Sunday Times, politicians hit a 25 year low, with just 13% of the public saying they have faith in what politicians say. On the other hand, journalists have been rewarded by moving up the trust ladder, from bottom rung up two rungs, by increasing marginally their standing, from 19% last year, to 22% this, while trust in Government Ministers also fell, from 24% to just 16% trusting what they say.”

Technical Note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,023 adults in Great Britain aged 15+, from 4-10 September 2009 on behalf of The Royal College of Physicians. The survey used face-to-face, in-home omnibus methodology in 157 sampling points. All interviews were conducted via CAPI (computer assisted personal interviewing). Data have been weighted to the known profile of the British population.

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