Patient attitudes to surgeons' attire in an outpatient clinic setting: substance over style

Am J Surg. 2012 Nov;204(5):663-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2009.09.001. Epub 2010 Jun 29.


Background: It is believed that patients prefer that surgeons convey a professional appearance with traditional business attire and white laboratory coat. We performed a prospective study to assess patient opinions regarding traditional attire versus the wearing surgical scrubs in the outpatient setting.

Methods: During a 5-month period, surgeons alternated wearing traditional clothing and surgical scrubs. Adult patients were given a questionnaire assessing their preferences regarding surgeons' clothing.

Results: Six hundred twelve patients returned the questionnaire. The majority felt that scrubs were appropriate attire for physicians. Half of the patients felt that wearing white laboratory coats is necessary. A minority felt that their surgeon's dress affects their opinion regarding the care they received. There was no difference between responses regardless of the attire actually worn.

Conclusions: Surgeon's clothing choice does not significantly influence patient's opinion of the care they receive. Patients do not have strong preferences for white coats or more traditional surgical attire.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clothing / psychology*
  • General Surgery*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital*
  • Patient Preference / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgical Attire*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires