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Should Dermatologists Take Their Attire Seriously?

Patients prefer dermatologists who dress to impress, says a study published in JAMA Dermatology.

Casual dress codes have become the norm in many industries across the country; however, the trend doesn’t seem to have migrated to dermatology. For their study, the Miami, Florida-based researchers administered surveys on perceptions of physician appearance to 261 patients who were at least 18 years old at general, surgical, and wound care clinics within an academic institution. Approximately 49 percent of respondents were male, 55.5 percent identified as Latino, and 85.4 percent were white. Each participant who agreed to the survey (95 percent) received a photo series of a physician dressed in four different outfits: “business attire (suit and tie), professional attire (white coat and tie), surgical attire (scrubs), and casual attire (t-shirt and jeans).” The physician featured was either an African American male, African American female, white male, or white female.

According to the responses, 73 percent of patients prefer that dermatologists dress in professional attire, 19 percent leaned towards surgical clothes, 6 percent were partial to business dress, and only 2 percent preferred casual attire. The researchers found that across the different dermatology clinics, unemployed and non-white patients were less likely to prefer a dermatologist in professional clothing. Patients who received a photo of an African American male or African American female had a tendency to exclusively select professional attire.  

  

Overall, the researchers discovered that patients perceived their physicians to be more knowledgeable and competent if they were dressed in professional attire.

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