THURSDAY, July 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Patients do in fact care what doctors wear, according to a study recently published in BMJ Open.

Christopher M. Petrilli, M.D., from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan, and colleagues conducted a survey among a convenience sample of 4,062 patients recruited from 10 academic medical centers between June 2015 and October 2016. The authors sought to determine whether physician attire can affect the patient experience and how this influences patient satisfaction.

The researchers found that 53 percent of respondents indicated that physician attire was important to them during care, with more than one-third agreeing that it influenced their satisfaction with care. Formal attire with a white coat was most highly rated (P = 0.001 versus scrubs with white coat and P < 0.001 for all other comparisons). However, there were important differences in preferences for attire by clinical context (scrubs were most preferred for surgeons) and patient characteristics (respondents ≥65 years preferred formal attire with a white coat).

“Patients have important expectations and perceptions for physician dress that vary by context and region,” the authors write. “Nuanced policies addressing physician dress code to improve patient satisfaction appear important.”

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