Building trustworthy relationships with critically ill patients and families

Cynda Hylton Rushton, Michelle L. Reina, Dennis S. Reina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A difficult case study involving repeated health crises and irreversible organ dysfunction illustrates the challenges critical care professionals face in caring for patients and their families. In such cases, trust is especially fragile, and coexists with its counterpart, betrayal. The Reina Trust & Betrayal Model defines 3 types of Transactional Trust. The first, Competence Trust, or the Trust of Capability, requires that clinicians practice humility, engage in inquiry, honor the patient's choices, and express compassion. The second, Contractual Trust, or the Trust of Character, demands that clinicians keep agreements, manage expectations, establish boundaries, and encourage mutually serving expectations. The third, Communication Trust, or the Trust of Disclosure, must be rooted in respect and based on truth-telling. Particularly in life-and-death situations, communication requires honesty and clarity. Each type of trust involves specific behaviors that build trust and can guide critical care professionals as they interact with patients and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalAACN advanced critical care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


  • Building trust
  • Critical care
  • Provider-patient relationships
  • Trust models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care


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