According to recently published results, patients who underwent orthopedic surgery in an inpatient setting had a moderate preference for male and female physicians who wore a white coat over scrubs or business attire and in some cases, scrubs alone.
“Patients do care about how we dress, and it influences their impressions of us as treating orthopedic surgeons,” John D. Jennings, MD, told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “Second, they essentially prefer that our attire is in line with their preconceived notions of what a doctor should ‘look like.’ In other words, a white coat combined with either scrubs or formal attire, and perhaps even scrubs alone.”
Researchers had 93 patients who underwent orthopedic surgery at an urban academic medical center participate in a three-part survey. Each patient was randomly showed 10 images of male and female surgeons dressed in five different outfits: business attire; a white coat over business attire; scrubs alone; a white coat over scrubs; and casual attire. Patients rated each image based on the five-point Likert scale which included how confident, trustworthy, safe, caring and smart the surgeon appeared, how well the surgery went and the patient’s willingness to discuss personal information with the surgeon. Then, patients ranked all images by gender on how confident they were in their surgeon based on their attire.
Patients who underwent orthopedic surgery in an inpatient setting had a moderate preference for male and female physicians who wore a white coat over scrubs or business attire.
Results from pair-wise comparisons for women surgeons showed there was no difference in patient preference between white coat over business attire compared with white coat over scrubs or scrubs alone. However, each preferred business attire and casual attire. Similar results were seen when patients rated the surgeon’s perceived intelligence, skill, trust, confidentiality and safety. Pair-wise comparisons for male surgeons showed patients did not prefer white coat over scrubs to white coat over business attire, scrubs alone or business attire. There was no difference between white coat over business attire and scrubs alone; although, they were both preferred to business attire and casual attire. No difference was seen between scrubs alone and business attire. Scrubs alone and business attire were both preferred over casual attire, with similar results seen for other categories. Patients preferred white coat over scrubs or white coats over business attire for men and women, when asked to rank all attire types, followed by scrubs alone, business attire and casual attire.
“Moving forward, there is still a lot to be learned about all of the factors that influence how patients perceive their caretakers, their overall experience and the crucial bond that forms between them and their surgical team,” Jennings said. “Furthermore, these factors change depending on the setting, subspecialty, patient age, etc., so there are numerous ways to look at this issue.” – by Monica Jaramillo
Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.