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Trust and therapeutic relationships

Trusting experts and epistemic humility in disability

Ho, A. (2011)

International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics


It is generally accepted that the therapeutic relationship between professionals and patients is one of trust. Nonetheless, some patient groups carry certain social vulnerabilities that can be exacerbated when they extend trust to health-care professionals. In exploring the epistemic and ethical implications of expert status, this paper examines how calls to trust may increase epistemic oppression and perpetuate the vulnerability of people with impairments. It critically evaluates the processes through which epistemic communities are formed or determined, and examines the institutional structure and power relations that contribute to or sustain such self-affirming ideological communities. It also argues for a two-way collaborative approach between professionals and people with impairments that recognizes the role of local knowledge in enhancing professionals’ own understanding of their theoretical framework and promoting responsive practices and policies.


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