Examining the complexity and variation of health care system distrust across neighborhoods: Implications for preventive health care

Tse Chuan Yang, I. Chien Chen, Aggie J. Noah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose - Recently, the institutional performance model has been used to explain the increased distrust of health care system by arguing that distrust is a function of individuals' perceptions on the quality of life in neighborhood and social institutions. We examined (1) whether individuals assess two dimensions of distrust consistently, (2) if the multilevel institutional performance model explains the variation of distrust across neighborhoods, and (3) how distrust patterns affect preventive health care behaviors. Methodology - Using data from 9,497 respondents in 914 census tracts (neighborhoods) in Philadelphia, we examined the patterns of how individuals evaluate the competence and values distrust using the Multilevel Latent Class Analysis (MLCA), and then investigated how neighborhood environment factors are associated with distrust patterns. Finally, we used regression to examine the relationships between distrust patterns and preventive health care. Findings - The MLCA identified four distrust patterns: Believers, Doubters, Competence Skeptics, and Values Skeptics. We found that 55 percent of the individuals evaluated competence and values distrust coherently, with Believers reporting low levels and Doubters having high levels of distrust. Competence and Values Skeptics assessed distrust inconsistently. Believers were the least likely to reside in socioeconomically disadvantaged and racially segregated neighborhoods among these patterns. In contrast to Doubters, Believers were more likely to use preventive health care, even after controlling for other socioeconomic factors including insurance coverage. Practical implications - Our findings suggest that distrust patterns are a function of neighborhood conditions and distrust patterns are associated with preventive health care. This study provides important policy implications for health care and future interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-66
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Health Care
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Health care system distrust
  • Multilevel latent class analysis
  • Neighborhood
  • Preventive health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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