Blog | Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doctors, ditch the tie and the coat

Illustration by Ryan DuBosarACP Internist has addressed doctors' dress before. Most recently, blogger Toni Brayer, FACP, dressed down doctors for wearing ties. Now, Ravi Reddy, MD, has taken casual dress to a new level--jeans and no white coat.

His sartorial choices are guided by his practice location--in Hawaii. It's a cultural thing, Dr. Reddy writes in the Hawai'i Medical Journal.

Studies done in the U.S. mainland show that most patients prefer their physician to wear a white coat, with a visible stethoscope and name tag. Attitudes are a little more laid back in Hawaii, explained Dr. Reddy. In public, many wear slippers (zoris) instead of covered shoes, and short pants and tee shirts are more common than long pants and collared shirts. Physicians favor an Aloha shirt or print dresses and slacks or skirts over ties and white coats.

So Dr. Reddy's front desk staff randomly surveyed 50 patients by questionnaire, asking if patients felt if their physicians wore slippers, scrubs, short pants, blue jeans, or a white medical coat. He then rated measures of trust and confidence.

Patients generally approved of scrubs (81%) and blue jeans (74%), but generally disapproved of slippers (57%) and shorts (69%). Patients preferred their physician not wear a white coat (52%). Regardless of their preferences, trust and confidence in the physician didn't vary much by physician attire, with the exception of the white coat. Those who expected to see one conferred a high degree of trust and confidence.

Aloha, casual everyday!