Patients' attitudes regarding physical characteristics of family practice physicians

South Med J. 2003 Dec;96(12):1190-4. doi: 10.1097/01.SMJ.0000077011.58103.C1.


Background: This study examined patient perceptions and attitudes toward various aspects of the male and female physician's professional appearance in the family practice setting.

Methods: Four hundred ninety-six patients from two family practice clinics in Knoxville, Tennessee, completed a valid and reliable questionnaire. Questionnaires were offered to all patients on registering at their respective clinic during a 2-week period.

Results: Most patients had no preference regarding the age or sex of their medical care provider. A nametag, white coat, and visible stethoscope were the most desirable characteristics, whereas sandals, clogs, and tennis shoes were the least desirable items. Younger patients were generally more accepting of casual attire than were older patients. Office clinic location was the most important predictor of preferences in six of the significant characteristics.

Conclusion: Our findings support the results of both studies published two decades earlier and more recently. Patients prefer a traditionally dressed physician as opposed to one who is dressed more casually.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Attitude*
  • Clothing / psychology*
  • Clothing / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tennessee