Physician fashion: Keep the coat, toss the tie

Today's physicians might want to ditch the necktie not just for infection control, but also because patients no longer seem to appreciate that particular formality, suggest results from a new survey published in the Archives of Dermatology.

For the study, Dr. Dean Morrell, director of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at the University of North Carolina, and colleagues surveyed 176 new patients at an adult dermatology clinic and the parents of 248 children attending a pediatric clinic about their opinions on what doctors should wear.

Across all demographic groups that answered the survey, just 20 percent of respondents said that male physicians should wear a necktie. "We're going to proclaim that ties are dead," Morrell told Reuters Health.

However, the white coat still seems to be ingrained in adult patients' perception of how a physician should look, with over half of patients seen in the adult dermatologist's office saying they expect to be treated by a physician wearing a white coat. Parents of pediatric patients, on the other hand, perhaps felt that the white coat could be intimidating to kids. The study found that about one out of every four parents wanted to see their child's dermatologist in a white coat.

According to Dr. Charles Ellis, a professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in this study, it's important to know what patients want to see when they visit the doctor. "Patient satisfaction is important for the healing process," Ellis told Reuters.

The survey results don't necessarily bear that out, as roughly two-thirds of respondents indicated that what a physician wears has no effect on their trust in that doctor.

To learn more:
- read the article from Reuters Health
- see the study from the Archives of Dermatology

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