Do patients care what doctors wear?


11 Feb 2015

People prefer doctors to dress in formal attire and definitely not in casual wear, according to a new analysis.

However the review of 30 studies involving 11,533 adult patients in 14 countries including Australia found that how patients’ felt about their doctor’s dress sense was heavily influenced by age, culture, geography and the context of care.

Australians, Europeans and Americans over the age of 50 tended to trust a more formally dressed doctor whereas Gen X and Y Americans tended to accept less formal wear.

Patients seen in an outpatient clinical setting preferred a smarter looking doctor whereas procedural specialists were more likely to be deemed acceptable in scrubs.

The study, published in BMJ Open also found that doctors don’t get a lot of guidance on how to dress – despite the influence their attire can have on patients’ perceptions.

Finding a one-size fits all approach to physician dress code is improbable, the researchers concluded.

Rather, ‘tailored’ approaches to physician attire that take into account patient, provider and contextual factors appear necessary, they said.

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