Patients' attitude toward consultations by a physician without a white coat in Japan

Intern Med. 1999 Jul;38(7):533-6. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.38.533.


Object: To know how Japanese patients perceive their physicians without a white coat during consultations.

Subjects and methods: The patients who visited a university clinic were divided into two groups: those seen by a physician in a white coat (the white-coat group) and those seen by a physician in private clothes (the private-clothes group). Questionnaires were distributed to the patients, which asked the tension and satisfaction of consultations as well as their preference for physician's attire. The answers of the white-coat group were compared with those of the private-clothes group.

Results: The percentage of new patients who felt tense during consultations was greater in the white-coat group (42%) than in the private-clothes group (33%). Seventy-one percent of the patients in the white-coat group preferred physicians in a white coat whereas only 39% preferred so in the private-clothes group (p<0.0001). However, the degree of patients' satisfaction for the consultation showed no statistical difference between the groups. Sixty-nine percent of the patients older than or equal to 70 years preferred a white coat while 52 percent of the patients younger than 70 years preferred so (p=0.002).

Conclusion: Physician's white coats did not influence the satisfaction with the consultations for most Japanese patients in a university clinic, although elderly patients as well as those seen by a physician in a white coat tended to prefer the white coat to the private clothes. Furthermore, practice without a white coat might reduce patients' tension during their first consultation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Clothing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires