Objectives: We aimed to explore patients' attitudes towards family physicians' and nurses' appearance.
Methods: One hundred and sixty-eight patients from three teaching Family Medicine clinics in Beer-Sheva, Israel, were interviewed in the clinics regarding the medical staff's dress code. They were also asked to choose one picture for either a male or female physician which, in their opinion, was the most suited for their own family physician, from a selection of pictures of the same male and female doctors dressed in different attires.
Results: One hundred and twenty-six patients (75%) replied that the attire of the physician had no influence on their decision in choosing their own family doctor. Fifty-two per cent of the patients preferred the doctor in a white coat and 71 % had the same preference for the nurse. Older age was associated with increased preference for a white coat. The dressing items which scored high for male doctor were a name tag, a formal suit or a shirt with a tie and sports shoes. For a female doctor a name tag, short haircut, trousers and sports shoes ranked highly. Long hair, earrings, and sandals scored low for a male physician, while mini-dress, shorts and tight clothes scored low for a female physician.
Conclusion: About half of patients still prefer the doctor to be dressed in a white coat. Patients prefer a more formal dressing for male and female physicians in family medicine clinics. Most of the patients claimed that the attire of the physician had no influence on their choice of family physician.