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Understanding and reducing medical mistrust

The Commonwealth Fund highlighted 3rd Conversation as a program that can help increase trust among patients and providers as part of a larger article, Understanding and Ameliorating Medical Mistrust among Black Americans (excerpt below):

Some advocates say that engendering trust among patients and providers will require carving space outside of the exam room. That’s the idea behind 3rd Conversation, a program led by X4 Health, a social impact design firm, and funded by the Andrew and Corey Morris-Singer Foundation. The program’s designers recognized patients and providers were having separate conversations about their health care experiences and frustrations. 3rd Conversation provides a space where they can come together to share their experiences and strengthen their relationships, with an eye toward finding solutions together.

At 3rd Conversation events, pairs of clinicians and patients get together for facilitated conversations; each is asked to share a personal story about when a relationship with a health care provider or patient made a significant difference to them. The sessions have revealed that clinicians and patients often want similar things, like more time during visits to get to know each other and less time spent looking at screens. Clinicians have also expressed frustration at their inability to help patients with social and economic challenges. “It demoralizes them when a patient comes in and is sick from pneumonia and they can give them medication, but they know the patient is going to sleep in a homeless shelter where they are apt to become sick again,” says Jennifer Sweeney, cofounder of X4 Health.

Sweeney says interest in 3rd Conversation remains high, even amid the pandemic, with requests coming in from large health systems and academic medical centers to private physician practices, and federally qualified health centers.


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