What not to wear — Physician's attire elicits mixed responses in outpatient orthopedic centers

Practice Management

A study in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research examined the effect physicians' attire has on a patient's perception of them in an outpatient orthopedic setting.

Here's what you need to know.

1. Researchers from Philadelphia's Temple University surveyed 85 patients at an outpatient orthopedic clinic at an urban teaching hospital.

2. Researchers presented eight images, four male and four female, to the patients. The surgeons wore a variety of uniforms including: a white coat covering formal attire, scrubs, business attire and casual attire.

The patients had to rate how confident, trustworthy, safe, caring and smart the surgeon appeared; how the surgery would go and how likely they would discuss personal information with the surgeon.

3. The researchers found that the white coat on a male surgeon had higher rating in confidence, intelligence, surgical skill, trust, ability to discuss confidential information and safety than a surgeon in business attire.

Patients preferred the white coat to casual attire in all categories.

4. For female surgeons, there was no difference between the white coat and scrubs, but the white coat was preferred to business attire in a majority of categories.

5. Patients disliked when providers wore casual clothing.

6. The researchers concluded that patients preferred the white coat, and they were more likely to believe the surgery would go better if the surgeon had a white coat or scrubs.

The study supports past research that surgeons should wear scrubs over business over casual attire if not sporting a white coat.

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