Chantal Hartmans, Stefanie Heremans, Marieke Lagrain, Kristin Van Asch and Birgitte Schoenmakers
Objective: To investigate the influence of the GP’s attire on the confidence that patients have in their GP as a medical expert and on the patient’s comfort level (defined as ‘feel at ease’). Design: A cross-section study without control group. Methods: Participants (n=1506 ) completed a survey on the internet or in paper after seeing images of six models of three different age categories, each in five different clothing styles (leisure clothing, casual, semiformal, formal and professional). The following questions were asked for each model: “In which doctor do you have the most confidence as a medical expert?” and “With which doctor do you feel most at ease?”. Results: Patients trusted a female doctor and the older male doctor most when wearing professional clothing (white coat). The young and middle aged GP’s were preferred to wear semiformal attire. Patients were most at ease with a female GP wearing leisure clothing. They preferred the young and middle aged male GP to wear semiformal attire, while patients were most at ease with the older male GP wearing casual clothing. Conclusion: The GP’s attire has an influence on the patient’s confidence and comfort level. In general patients still mainly prefer a doctor in a professional outfit.