Objective To evaluate children's and parents' perceptions of hospital doctors' attire.
Design Questionnaire study asking children and parents to assign their thoughts and responses to photographs of a male or female doctor dressed formally and informally.
Setting Outpatient department, Children's Hospital, James Paget University Hospital NHS Trust, Great Yarmouth. 25 children were interviewed of which 8 were boys and 17 were girls. 24 parents were also interviewed using the same pictures.
Main outcome measures Children's and parents' preferences, with reference to the doctors dress.
Results Only 25% of children interviewed expressed anxiety about doctors wearing white coats. 79% of children rated male doctors as needing to be smart to be trustworthy. Women doctors were given more flexibility, with only 45% of children thinking they needed to be smartly dressed and many expressing a preference for more informal clothes. 75% of parents thought a white coat or clearly recognised uniform was a good idea with a strong preference for smart appearance. However, only 60% thought this applied in paediatricians, feeling doctors could dress more informally in this setting.
Conclusions Our children have not changed much. What we wear does matter as the majority of children consider formally dressed doctors as trustworthy but not friendly; and parents consider a recognisable uniform or white coat as important.
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