Patients prefer doctors who wear white lab coats with name tags and not scrub suits, according to an article in the June issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.
Reviewing dozens of studies on patient attitudes towards professional attire, author Lawrence Brandt, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, concludes that attire is important to all demographic groups of patients.
"A neat and clean appearance is more important than attire," Brandt writes, according to a release on Monday from Montefiore. "There is no substitute for a gentle, concerned physician with an engaging, friendly, emphatic demeanor."
But he adds that a more formal look projects professional competence and inspires trust among patients, while they disapprove of a casual look, such as wearing sandals, clogs, scrub suits or blue jeans.
Brandt says a groomed mustache or beard gets high ratings, while excessive jewelry or long nails get low scores.
Even at the beginning of medicine, he recalls, Hippocrates thought doctors should "be clean in person, well-dressed, and anointed with sweet smelling unguents."