Objectives: Despite their potential importance in affecting interactions between doctors and patients, there have been few attempts to measure attitudes to doctors and medicine. One scale, developed by Marteau, had shown a promising factor structure in a UK antenatal setting. The present study assessed its characteristics in Dublin general practice attenders.
Method: Patients aged over 16 waiting for a self-initiated consultation were recruited. The Attitudes to Doctors and Medicine Scale was administered by interview. Item analysis and factor analysis were used to examine its psychometric properties.
Results: Of 200 respondents, with a median age of 31, 144 were women. Item analysis showed lower reliabilities for the subscales of Marteau's scale than the original UK study, especially the subscales measuring negative attitudes to doctors and to medicine. Factor analysis failed to confirm a clear-cut distinction between attitudes to doctors and attitudes to medicine, and between positive and negative attitudes. Furthermore, factors which loaded in opposite directions in the original UK study loaded in the same direction in the Irish sample.
Conclusions: The differences found may reflect the differences either in culture or setting between the two studies. They strongly suggest that the Attitudes to Doctors and Medicine Scale does not have desirable psychometric properties. They also underline the need for a reliable and valid measure of attitudes to doctors and medicine, and for a more serious research interest in the area.