An evidence-based approach to physician etiquette in pediatric ophthalmology

J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2011 Nov-Dec;48(6):336-9; quiz 335, 340. doi: 10.3928/01913913-20101018-04. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


Purpose: Little objective evidence exists to guide physician etiquette in pediatric ophthalmology. This article describes the preferences of families visiting a pediatric ophthalmology clinic for the first time.

Methods: Review of 149 questionnaires completed by the families of patients visiting a pediatric ophthalmology clinic in a tertiary care center. The Fisher exact and chi-square tests were used to compare subpopulations.

Results: Most respondents preferred that their physician wear a white coat. Men preferred a handshake to a verbal greeting (P = .0264) and professional to business casual attire for both male and female physicians (P = .01, both). African-American parents were more likely to prefer being addressed by surname than other races (P = .008). No statistically significant differences were found comparing the preferences of parents with an advanced education (bachelor and graduate degrees) to those without.

Conclusion: Pediatric ophthalmologists may wish to consider wearing white coats and business casual attire in clinic and addressing parents informally as "mom" or "dad" or by their first name, although etiquette should ultimately be determined on an individual patient basis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clothing / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Ophthalmology / standards*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Preference*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires