The contribution of patients' presurgery perceptions of surgeon attributes to the experience of trust and pain during third molar surgery

C.E. Ashton-James, T. Forouzanfar, D. Costa

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background:Patients' feeling of trust in their surgeon may modulate the experience of pain during surgery. However, factors that contribute to patients' experience of trust during surgery remain underexamined. The current study examined the contribution of patients' impressions of surgeons' warmth and competence to their experience of trust and pain during wisdom tooth extractions.Methods:Patients (N = 135, 47% female) scheduled for a wisdom tooth extraction reported their current distress and impressions of their surgeon's warmth and competence after a brief introduction to their surgeon immediately before surgery. Immediately after their surgery, patients reported their experience of trust (feeling safe and in good hands) and pain during surgery. Path analyses modeled perceptions of surgeon warmth, competence, and their interaction as predictors of patients' experiences of trust and pain during surgery.Results:Higher perceived surgeon competence, but not warmth, predicted the experience of higher trust and lower pain during surgery. Perceived competence interacted with perceived warmth such that the competence-trust relationship was only significant at moderate to high levels of perceived surgeon warmth and failed to reach significance at lower levels of perceived surgeon warmth.Conclusion:These results indicate that patients feel greater trust in surgeons who are perceived as higher in competence and warmth, underscoring the importance of impression management in surgical care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere754
Number of pages7
JournalPain Reports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Pain
  • Social perception
  • Surgeon competence
  • Surgeon warmth
  • Third molar surgery
  • Trust

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