Dressed to Heal

What our physicians wear matters

In 21 of those studies, they discovered that patients had strong preferences for what their physicians wore. “Patients more often prefer their doctors to wear formal clothing and white lab coats than not. Indeed, in 18 of the studies we reviewed, patients had a preference or positive association with this style of attire,” they reported on website.

2079_EVR-5108_BLK.pdfThe researchers also found some significant variations:

“First, studies involving older patients or those from Europe or Asia all reported higher satisfaction when physicians wore formal attire. Second, in emergency, surgical or intensive care settings, scrubs were not only preferred by patients, but also more often equated with professionalism. This makes sense, as in these more ‘hands-on,’ procedure-oriented settings, formal suits, shirts and ties clearly seem out of place. Finally, in doctors’ offices and outpatient clinics, scrubs were viewed unfavorably and often resulted in negative impressions.”

C12110_CYN-DetailA doctor’s clothing is a universal symbol of the profession. The white lab coat and stethoscope instantly declare “doctor.” Not only does the simple coat provide reassurance to patients in times of stress and uncertainty, it reflects the training, stature and culture of the profession — the wearer has worked long and hard to earn that coat. But that can be slipped off at the end of the day. Not so for scrubs.

C52110_AZLBut there have been many changes in the medical clothing field. While designed to be utilitarian, with function and reliability built in for the wearer, scrubs and other medical garments have moved into the mainstream of fashion. Out are the starched, boxy uniforms that provides an “institutional” feel. In is the “athleisure” trend championed by brands such as Lululemon, which has entered the medical field.

James Shimizu, senior vice president at medical attire company CID Resources, acknowledged the need for moveable fabrics that can take healthcare workers from work to play.

“Fast fashion and loungewear has emerged in the healthcare uniform segment,” he told LifeZette. “Athletic apparel and the fit and styling of athleisure is proving popular, particularly among women.”

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