OBJECTIVES: To ascertain patient preference regarding physician attire in Hawai'i, based on a sampling of patients at the Physician Center at Mililani (PCM), and to compare the findings with studies of patients in the continental United States.
METHODS: Fifty patients were randomly given a questionnaire by front desk staff at PCM. The questionnaire asked if the participant felt it was acceptable for their physician to wear slippers, scrubs, short pants, blue jeans, and asked if they preferred their physician to wear a white medical coat. The second part of the questionnaire utilized a rating scale to measure levels of trust/confidence in their physician based on the previously noted items of attire.
RESULTS: Patients generally approved of scrubs and blue jeans, but disapproved of slippers and shorts, as acceptable physician attire. By a very small majority patients preferred their physician NOT to wear a white coat. Regardless of their preferences, trust and confidence in the physician was not greatly affected by physician attire, according to this survey with the exception of the white coat--those who preferred their physician to wear a white medical coat bestowed a high degree of trust and confidence on this article of attire.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients in Hawai'i, according to this small study, differ in many respects from their mainland counterparts. More casual forms of dress are generally accepted, and the white medical coat is actually NOT preferred, by a small majority. More extremes in casual attire, such as shorts and slippers were not approved as appropriate physician attire by the majority of Hawai'i patients in this study.
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