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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Research in public health approaches trust as a component of social cohesion, a characteristic of the social context in which an individual is embedded. This article discusses the theoretical mechanisms why living in a trusting environment might be associated with better health outcomes. A conceptual dilemma in health studies is that individual trust perceptions overlap with the personality trait of “cynical hostility” (from the field of psychology). Multi-level studies help to distinguish between the health effects of cynical distrust (an individual characteristic) and trustworthiness of the environment. I review the empirical studies linking trust and health outcomes. To date, trust has been examined as a contextual feature of residential neigborhoods and workplaces. Future research needs to strengthen causal inference.

Keywords: public health, social cohesion, untrustworthy, population health, trustworthiness, social context, social environment, workplace, neighborhood, trust perception

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