Objectives: This study was performed to examine the preferences of patients regarding physician attire, and if their perception of physician competence was influenced by the physicians' clothing style.
Methods: Patients attending the obstetrics and gynecology clinic in which residents provided the majority of direct patient care were invited to participate in this study by completing a questionnaire. Patients were first asked to respond to 3 questions about their preference regarding physician attire. They were then asked to examine a series of photographs illustrating a variety of physician clothing styles worn by a model. Patients were asked to respond to 2 questions: 1). If your doctor is dressed in this outfit, would that make you more or less comfortable talking to your physician?, and 2). If your doctor is dressed in this outfit, would it make you feel more or less confident in his/her abilities?
Results: The majority of the respondents expressed no preference for their physician wearing a white coat (60%/110/183), or they did not respond that a physician's dress influenced their comfort level (63%/111/179) or the confidence (62%/114/181) they had in their physician. However, for both male and female physician models, the comfort level of patients and their perceptions of physician competence were the highest in response to images of physicians dressed in scrubs with a white coat, and least for casual dress.
Conclusion: Resident physician attire makes a difference to patients. Our patients prefer the white coat with surgical scrubs. Casual clothing is less well liked by our patients.