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Background: Previous studies have demonstrated that dress style can influence a patient’s impression of a physician’s compassion, trust, and competency. The purpose of this study was to understand the preferences pediatric patients and their caregivers have towards physician attire in the orthopaedic outpatient setting. The authors hypothesized that patients and parents/guardians would have no preference for white coats and would prefer scrubs over other attire options.
Methods: Between January and May 2022, patients aged 10 to 21 and their parents/guardians presenting to an outpatient orthopaedic office visit were approached to complete an anonymous, voluntary survey. The survey consisted of preference questions related to white coats, male physicians’ attire, and female physicians’ attire. Categorical variables were analyzed using Pearson Chi-Square with p≤0.05 used as threshold for statistical significance. A kappa analysis was performed to compare agreement between pediatric patients and their respective parents/guardians’ responses.
Results: A total of 200 participants surveys were included in analysis; 100 patients and 100 parents/guardians. Patients had an average age of 14.1±2.4 years and were 47.0% female, while parents/guardians had an average age of 47.3±6.0 years and were 76.0% female. A total of 71.5% of participants felt neutral towards the use of white coats in the outpatient office. Scrubs were the most preferred attire option for male physicians for both patients (46%) and parents/guardians (41%), however, significant differences were found in overall attire preference for male and female physicians (p=0.027 and 0.032, respectively). There was discordance in responses between patients and their parents/guardians (kappa=0.15–0.28).
Conclusions: After analyzing 200 surveys, this study found that while pediatric patients and parents/guardians have no preference for white coats, both groups were most likely to prefer male and female physicians wear scrubs in outpatient orthopaedic office visits. With the greatest proportion of all participants preferring scrubs to other attire options, the authors suggest pediatric orthopaedic surgeons wear scrubs during outpatient visits.