June 26, 2015
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Physician Fashionistas

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You may think your patients don't notice what you're wearing, but a new study says you're wrong. While it may not matter whether your shirts come from The Gap or are bespoke from Savile Row, what does seem to matter is what you're wearing on top of them. A news analysis undertaken by physicians at the University of Michigan Health System found that patients are more likely to trust and feel confidence in doctors—male or female—who are wearing either suits or white coats.

The research team reviewed data from 30 previous studies involving over 11,000 patients in 14 countries. They found that not all patients feel the same. While Americans over age 50, and Europeans and Asians of any age, tended to trust a formally dressed doctor more, Americans in Generation X and Y were more accepting of casually dressed physicians.

There were even more exceptions to the preference for formal dress: In surgery, intensive care, or during an emergency, patients don't seem to care much at all about what their doctors are wearing.

Christopher Petrilli, MD, the study's lead author, has a particular expertise in the topic. Before becoming an internal medicine resident he worked in the sharply-dressed world of investment banking. Next up for his research team is a new international study dubbed TAILOR: Targeting Attire to Improve Likelihood of Rapport!