Desiderata or dogma: what the evidence reveals about physician attire

J Gen Intern Med. 2008 May;23(5):641-3. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0546-8. Epub 2008 Feb 20.


Introduction: Physician-patient interactions are complex and depend on multiple factors including common cultural definitions and evolving social norms. The once purely philosophical debate over what constitutes appropriate physician attire can benefit from a growing evidence base in the literature.

Discussion: Although this literature is commonly regarded as supporting traditional attire, the data actually represent a more balanced distribution of opinions held by patients and by physicians. Perhaps interpretations favoring a conservative approach are expected given the history and tradition of the physician-patient relationship.

Conclusion: Nevertheless, in the age of evidence-based medicine, it is difficult to argue against scrutiny of the available literature. Evidence that challenges the importance of traditional physician attire is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clothing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians
  • Professional Competence
  • Public Opinion*
  • Trust