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How Should Doctors Dress?

Thursday 26 Jan. 2006

How Should Doctors Dress?

Once the white coat in hospitals or surgery was de rigeur for doctors; not forgetting of course the stethoscope slung casually around the neck.

Not any more it seems according to latest research recently published in the British Medical Journal.

Headlined ‘Judging a book by its cover’, the survey carried out by Otago University’s Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, shows that the white coat is no longer the dress style most preferred by patients in the new millennium.

Medical student Marianne Lill and Associate Professor Tim Wilkinson questioned 451 patients at Christchurch Hospital as to their preferred medical couture. The results show that both ‘haute’ and ‘grunge’ are out, and semi-formal is now ‘the look’ for the classy clinician.

However, patients are nervous about piercings through eyebrows, or anywhere else for that matter. Similarly short tops on women, or earrings on men do not give a good impression in the wards, or help patients feel comfortable with their doctors.

The most preferred clothes are semi-formal, with the addition of a smile! The next most popular are semi-formal without a smile, followed by the traditional white coat, then the formal suit, jeans, and casual dress down the bottom of the list.

When it comes to names, most patients seem to prefer to be called by their first, and to be introduced to the doctor by his/her full name and title, and to see a name badge worn on the breast pocket. Older patients have more conservative preferences.

What does this all mean for health care? Associate Professor Tim Wilkinson or Dr Marianne Lill can answer these and other questions.

The mean age of patients in the survey was 55.9 years. Full article can be located at:


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