Patient Preference in Dermatologist Attire in the Medical, Surgical, and Wound Care Settings


Authors: Joshua D. Fox; Giselle Prado; Katherine L. Baquerizo Nole; Flor Macquahe; Ingrid Herskovitz; Ashley Rosa; Shifa Akhtar; Adam Aldahan; Vidhi Shah; Stephanie Mlacker; Gabriel Cardenas; Robert S. Kirsner
JAMA Dermatology, June 2016


To determine patient preferences for different types of dermatologist attire in dermatology medical, surgical, and wound care clinics. We hypothesized that patients in the dermatology medical setting would prefer professional attire, while patients in the dermatology surgical and wound care setting would prefer surgical scrubs.


Surveys were administered to 261 persons, and 255 participated and completed enough of the questions to be included in the outcome analyses (118 men, 121 women, 22 unknown [did not answer sex question]), mean (SD) age, 56.3 (18.6) years; about 49% of those who reported their sex were men; 56% were Hispanic; and 85% were white. Approximately 72% of respondents held a college degree or higher. About 63%, 24%, and 13% of respondents were medical, surgical, and wound care dermatology patients, respectively. Roughly 73%, 19%, 6%, and 2% of cumulative responses were for professional, surgical, business, and casual attire, respectively.

Respondents who received a picture of a black male or black female physician were more likely to exclusively prefer professional attire: unadjusted odds ratios (ORs) 3.21 (95% CI, 1.39-7.42) and 2.78 (95% CI, 1.18-6.51), respectively, compared with respondents who received a picture of a white male physician.

Non-white and unemployed respondents were less likely to prefer professional attire exclusively: ORs, 0.28 (95% CI, 0.1-0.83) and 0.28 (95% CI 0.08-0.99), respectively.

Respondents preferred professional attire in all clinic settings, though respondents in the dermatology surgery clinic were less likely to prefer professional attire compared with respondents in the medical dermatology clinic: race-adjusted OR, 0.74 (95% CI, 0.56-0.98).

Wound care and medical dermatology respondents preferred professional attire comparably.

Conclusions and Relevance

In this study, most patients preferred professional attire for their dermatologists in most settings. It is possible that patients’ perceptions of their physicians’ knowledge and skill is influenced by the physicians’ appearance, and these perceptions may affect outcomes.

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DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.1186