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Putting on the style: what patients think of the way their doctor dresses.

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  • Research Article


The aim of this study was to determine how acceptable patients found different styles of doctors' dress and whether patients felt that a doctor's style of dress influenced their respect for his or her opinion. A total of 475 patients from five general practices in Lothian were surveyed using photographs of different styles in a male and female doctor and questions about their attitudes to doctors' dress in general. Overall, patients seemed to favour a more formal approach to dress, with the male doctor wearing a formal suit and tie and the female doctor in a white coat scoring the most high marks. This was particularly true of older patients and those in social classes 1 and 2. The male doctor wearing a tweed jacket and informal shirt and tie scored fewer low marks and this was therefore the least disliked of the outfits. There was a marked variation between preferences of patients registered with different practices. When asked, 28% of patients said they would be unhappy about consulting one of doctors shown, usually the ones who were informally dressed. However, some patients said they would dislike their doctor wearing a white coat. Although there are more important attributes for a general practitioner than the way he or she dresses, a majority of patients (64%) thought that the way their doctor dressed was very important or quite important. Given that 41% of the patients said they would have more confidence in the ability of one of the doctors based on their appearance it would seem logical for doctors to dress in a way that inspires confidence.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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