Although most images of doctors are tied to the visual of a white coat, the garment has come under heavy debate. From concerns of transmitting bacteria and microbes to questions of power dynamics, the white coat has garnered much attention and discussion and in 2009, the American Medical Association considered a resolution to adopt “hospital guidelines for dress codes that minimize transmission of nosocomial infections.”
In 2008, England enacted a new bare-below-the-elbow policy that banned white coats. Five years after this policy sparked international news, Miles Landry, Adriana Dornelles, Genevieve Hayek, and Richard Deichmann have explored patient preferences for doctor attire at 3 Ochsner Health System locations. They surveyed patients by showing the same doctor in a traditional white coat, bare-below-the-elbow attire, a white coat with scrubs, and scrubs alone, and assessing patient preference and patient confidence and comfort with the physician based upon the displayed attire. Landry et al found that patients still preferred white coats, indicating the coat contributed to their comfort and confidence in their physicians. Their full article is available on The Ochsner Journal‘s website.