Patients’ and Physicians’ Attitudes Regarding the Physicians’s Professional Appearance

Dwenda K Gjerdingen, Deborah E. Simpson, Sandra L. Titus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although physician appearance has been a topic of interest to medical historians for more than two centuries, little objective investigation has been made into patients’ and physicians’ attitudes toward the physician’s appearance. This study analyzed responses from 404 patients, residents, and staff physicians regarding their attitudes toward various aspects of the male and female physician’s professional appearance. Positive responses from all participants were associated with traditional items of dress such as the dress, shirt and tie, dress shoes, and nylons, and for physician-identifying items such as a white coat and a name tag. Negative responses were associated with casual items such as blue jeans, scrub suits, athletic shoes, clogs, and sport socks. Negative ratings were also associated with overly feminine items such as prominent ruffles and female dangling earrings and such temporarily fashionable items as long hair on men, male earrings, and patterned hose on women. Overall, patients were less discriminating in their attitude toward physician appearance than physicians. Patients rated traditional items less positively and casual items less negatively. This study confirms the importance of the physician’s appearance in physician-patient communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1212
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Volume147
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1987

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Patients’ and Physicians’ Attitudes Regarding the Physicians’s Professional Appearance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this