Sotgiu, Giovanni and Nieddu, Paolo and Mameli, Laura and Sorrentino, Enrico and Pirina, Pietro and Porcu, Alberto and Madeddu, Stefano and Idini, Manuela and Di Martino, Maddalena and Delitala, Giuseppe and Mura, Ida Iolanda and Dore, Maria Pina (2012) Evidence for preferences of Italian patients for physician attire. Patient Preference and Adherence, Vol. 6 , p. 361-367. eISSN 1177-889X. Article.
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BACKGROUND: The relationship between patient and physician is a complex interaction that includes multiple factors. The objective of this study was to explore Italian patients' preferences regarding physician appearance.
METHODS: A questionnaire was developed to survey patients in different medical and surgical settings; each subject was asked to choose one picture of either a male or female physician from a selection of different attires (professional, casual, surgical scrubs, trendy, and careless). Patients were also surveyed about issues such as the presence of a name tag, hair length, trousers on women, amount of makeup, presence of tattoos, and body piercing. Statistical analysis was performed using a Chi-square test.
RESULTS: A total of 765 questionnaires (534 completed from patients waiting for an internal medicine visit and 231 for other subspecialties) were completed. The majority (45%) of patients preferred the gastroenterologist to wear a surgical scrub with a white coat. For the other specialists, patients accepted either scrubs or formal dress under a white coat (P ≤ 0.05), with a name tag. Trendy attire was preferred by nine patients (1.1%). The entire sample judged it inappropriate for clinicians to have long hair, visible tattoos, body piercing, and, for women, to wear trousers and use excessive makeup.
CONCLUSION: This is the first study conducted in Italy regarding physician attire. As in other Western countries, Italian patients favor physicians in professional attire with a white coat. Wearing professional dress is part of "etiquette based medicine" and may favorably influence clinician-patient relationships and patient compliance.
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