The 'auxiliary' white coat effect in hospitals: perceptions of patients and doctors

Singapore Med J. 2017 Oct;58(10):574-575. doi: 10.11622/smedj.2017023. Epub 2017 Apr 3.


A doctor's attire is important in making a positive first impression and enhancing the overall healthcare experience for patients. We conducted a study to examine the perceptions and preferences of patients and doctors regarding six types of dress codes used by doctors in different scenarios and locations. A total of 87 patients and 46 doctors participated in the study. Separate sets of questionnaires containing four demographic questions and 14 survey questions were distributed to the two groups. Most patients preferred doctors to dress formally in white coats regardless of the scenario or location, whereas the majority of doctors preferred formal attire without white coats. Both groups preferred operating theatre attire in the emergency department. Our findings confirmed that patients perceived doctors in white coats to be more trustworthy, responsible, authoritative, confident, knowledgeable and caring. There is a need to educate the public about the reasons for changes in doctors' traditional dress codes.

Keywords: dress code; perception; professionalism; white coat.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clothing*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians
  • Professionalism*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult