October 25, 2021

Desk Solver

Business The Problem Solver

Relaxed attire is becoming far more well known amongst physicians, but patients want white coats

August 06, 2021

4 min examine

We ended up not able to approach your ask for. Please test yet again afterwards. If you continue to have this challenge please contact [email protected]

In a modern survey, patients stated they considered physicians in informal apparel these as a fleece jacket in location of a white coat as much less skilled and fewer seasoned.

The conclusions, published in JAMA Network Open, also discovered that relaxed clothing led to misidentification of roles, particularly amid feminine doctors, and that female medical professionals were frequently rated as fewer specialist than their male counterparts, even when wearing a white coat.


“The results of the analyze advise that woman medical professionals are significantly less probable than male medical professionals to be determined as medical professionals and additional very likely to be misidentified as nurses, professional medical experts or medical professional assistants,” Jordan P. Steinberg, MD, PhD, of the office of plastic and reconstructive medical procedures at Johns Hopkins University College of Medicine, and colleagues wrote. “This misunderstanding may well be affiliated with prevailing stereotypes.”

Despite a shift in the U.S. overall health care workforce, most physicians are even now males (604,560 males vs. 293,120 ladies), while most nurses are females (3.2 million women of all ages vs. 330,000 adult males), in accordance to the researchers.

“The public’s increased publicity to male physicians and female nurses contributes to the development of gender-centered experienced stereotypes and linked biases,” they wrote.

Steinberg and colleagues done a inhabitants-dependent study by way of the Amazon Mechanical Turk system from May 2020 to June 2020. The survey cohort was comprised of 487 grown ups in the U.S. The imply age of respondents was 36.2 yrs 53.4% were ladies 76.4% determined as white and 6.8% as Black.

The respondents furnished answers on a five-issue Likert scale about the place and how generally they see overall health care specialists carrying white coats, scrubs, fleece-blended sweaters or vests and softshell jackets, and the most important attributes in a wellness treatment expert: experience, professionalism or friendliness.

Respondents also ranked on a 6-place Likert scale the knowledge level, professionalism and friendliness of gurus in a series of photos that showed products carrying many wellbeing care apparel. Their tastes for health care attire ended up centered on a professional’s part, which involved nurse, technician, phlebotomist, spouse and children medical professional, dermatologist and surgeon.

Perceptions and gender bias

The the greater part of respondents noted looking at wellness treatment practitioners in white coats “most of the time” (42.5%), in scrubs “sometimes” (36.6%) and in fleece and softshell jackets “rarely” (37%), according to the scientists. When a practitioner in a white coat was perceived as more professional (suggest professionalism rating: 4.9 for white coat vs. 3.1 for fleece jacket vs. 3.3 for softshell jacket P < .001), a practitioner in a softshell jacket appeared more friendly to respondents (mean friendliness score: 3.6 for white coat vs. 3.1 for softshell P < .003).

Older respondents were significantly more likely than younger respondents to perceive a model in a white coat with business attire underneath as having more experience (P < .009). Also, Steinberg and colleagues reported that fleece jackets with scrubs underneath reduced professionalism scores for all regions in the U.S. except the West. Most respondents reported a preference for surgeons wearing a white coat with scrubs underneath and, for family physicians and dermatologists, a white coat with business attire underneath (P < .001).

When comparing men and women, respondents perceived a male model wearing business attire with any outerwear item as significantly more professional than a female model wearing the same attire (mean professionalism score: 65.8 for men vs. 56.2 for women). When shown photos of models wearing only hospital or fashion scrubs, respondents still perceived the male model as more professional than the female model (P < .001). Moreover, male models in white coats with business innerwear were more likely to be identified as a physician than female models in the same attire (88.3% for men vs. 71.7% for women P < .001), according to Steinberg and colleagues.

“The white coat still has powerful symbolism, and ‘white coat ceremonies’ continue to be a rite of passage for medical students. Our study seems to indicate that, despite this, the white coat does little to address the problems of role misidentification and gender bias, particularly as (a) more and more clinical personnel these days may be offered white coats to wear, and (b) many hospital or office personnel have come to prefer casual wear,” Steinberg told Healio Primary Care. “In the COVID-19 era, where there again is heightened emphasis on disinfection, infrequently laundered white coats may also be disfavored.”

He added that the research team suspected that gender bias and physician role misidentifications would persist “irrespective of formal vs. casual wear.”

The ‘symbolic’ white coat

In a related editorial, Amalia Cochran, MD, FACS, an associate professor of surgery at University of Utah Health Care, and Gilbert R. Upchurch Jr., MD, a professor of surgery and chairman of the department of surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine, weighed in on the longevity of the white coat culture in medicine. The history of the white coat dates back to the latter part of the 19th century, though resistance to it has mounted over the last 20 years, according to Cochran and Upchurch.

“Although public perceptions related to expertise may still favor white coats, perceptions of expertise also still widely favor older male physicians. It is therefore intriguing that for women physicians, no clear benefit to the patient-physician relationship can be attributed to wearing a white coat,” they wrote. “This work still does not help us to unravel the relationship, if any, between patient biases and clinical outcomes. Perhaps the message embedded in the article by Xun et al is simply that the white coat’s importance is primarily symbolic and that it is no longer a prerequisite for physicians to provide high-quality and compassionate clinical care.”


Cochran A, Upchurch GR. JAMA Netw Open. 2021doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.19881.

Xun H, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.17779.