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Patients prefer dermatologists to wear professional attire, white coat

Fox et al. JAMA Dermatology Patient preference survery for dermatologists' attire

Fox et al. JAMA Dermatology

A survey conducted by JAMA Dermatology (June 1, 2016) found that most patients prefer their dermatologists to be dressed in “professional attire,” including a white coat.

Dr. Robert S. Kirsner of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and coauthors surveyed the attitudes of dermatology patients (261 were surveyed and 255 responses were included).

“In this study, most patients preferred professional attire for their dermatologists in most settings. It is possible that patients’ perceptions of their physicians’ knowledge and skill is influenced by the physicians’ appearance, and these perceptions may affect outcomes,” the authors concluded.

Participants were shown photographs of physicians wearing business attire (suits), professional attire (white coat), surgical attire (scrubs), and casual attire. They were asked to indicate which physician they preferred in response to a series of questions.

Professional attire was the most preferred in 73% of responses and it was preferred in all clinic settings, according to the results. Surgical attire was preferred in 19% of responses, business attire in 6%, and casual attire in 2%, according to the results.

In an audio interview with Dr. Kirsner posted on the JAMA website, he said, “with regards to dermatologists it is very important because one of . . . the ways we are measured is through patients’ perceptions . . . Patients make up their mind about a physician very, very early in the interaction. So their initial gut reaction may dictate how they perceive us, how they are going to interpret our recommendations, . . . and even how their outcomes may be affected.”

“I think physicians should think about how they represent themselves because we help patients in a variety of ways,” said Dr. Kirsner. “It is not just through the procedures and the medications that we prescribe, but the confidence that they have in us, as well as our demeanor with them. It all starts with how we are dressed when we enter the room and what they think of us.”

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