Professionalism and Trust

The aim of this project is to define the values, attitudes and behaviours required of medical professionals in modern society to maintain, or restore, trust and trustworthiness. The project team will re-examine professional roles and responsibilities and align these with the needs of patients and clients.

Professionalism is widely accepted as the moral contract that exists between the professional and the public. It is an agreement that enables the public to place their trust in professionals during times of vulnerability and need. The implicit understanding being that the professional will put the interests of the patient or client at the fore.

However, professionalism is not a static concept; it is influenced inherently by the culture in which it exists, the values and behaviours of the profession and the requirements and needs of its patients and clients.

Failure to maintain dialogue about this moral contract and its development are potentially destructive to the public-professional relationship both at an individual level and to the placement of public trust at a greater societal level. Surveys and data from polls in recent years suggest that trust in the professions has been steadily declining in recent years.

As a result, this project is auspicious, offering a crucial opportunity to re-evaluate professionalism and to align the work of professionals with the needs of society.

The project team will consist of a unique collaboration of invited professions, looking to re-evaluate professionalism using the following methods:

  • Describing the role and evolution of professionalism, professional standards and regulation
  • Examining the changing forces in society and draw conclusions about the impact of these forces
  • Describing the attitudes, values and behaviours that are required of the modern professional and develop recommendations of how these can be promoted

The findings of this work and subsequent recommendations will be published under the badging of all key contributors. 

Project details



Dr Judith Tweedie, Royal College of Physicians

Professor Jane Dacre, Royal College of Physicians

Ann Griffin, Royal College of Physicians

Grant amount and duration


January 2017 - December 2018