Patients Tend to Prefer Formal Physician Attire

Patient preferences influenced by age, geographic location, context of care

FRIDAY, Feb. 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Patients often prefer physicians with formal attire and white coats, according to a systematic review published online Jan. 19 in BMJ Open.

Christopher Michael Petrilli, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine the influence of physician attire on patient perceptions. Data were included from 30 studies involving 11,533 patients from 14 countries.

The researchers found that in 70 percent of studies, there were reports of preferences or positive influence of physician attire on patient perceptions. In 60 percent of studies, formal attire and white coats with other attire not specified were preferred. Among older patients and in studies conducted in Europe and Asia, the preference for formal attire and white coats was more prevalent. No preference was reported for attire or a preference for scrubs was reported in four of seven studies involving procedural specialties. No attire preference was reported in four of five studies in intensive care and emergency settings. Of the 12 studies that surveyed patients after a clinical encounter, only three concluded that attire influences patient perceptions.

"Although patients often prefer formal physician attire, perceptions of attire are influenced by age, locale, setting, and context of care," the authors write. "Policy-based interventions that target such factors appear necessary."

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