April 17, 1987

Patients and the Habits of House Officers

Author Affiliations

University of Louisville

University of Louisville

JAMA. 1987;257(15):2031. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390150047013

To the Editor.—  The data collected by Dunn et al1 are valuable for faculty who are interested in enlightening students and residents about the importance of physician attire and etiquette. We were interested in obtaining similar information for our teaching activities. We found that unexpected and useful information concerning patient expectations of physician appearance can also be obtained using an open-ended format.

Study.—  During the summer of 1986, 12 photographs were made of people standing in front of a standard plain background. Their attire varied and included men with and without white coats, blue jeans, sneakers, and ties. Women wore either skirts or slacks with or without white coats. After obtaining informed consent in accord with University of Louisville policy, pairs of these photographs were shown to 90 patients waiting for routine care in the waiting rooms of private family practitioners or the university family practice center. Patients were