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Can What You Wear Affect Your Healthcare?

clothing and healthcare

One doctor admits that the way you dress when you go for a check-up can affect the level of healthcare you get. But it's a two-way street – research shows that the way your doctor dresses can affect your healthcare too!


Doctors treat all their patients the same without discrimination, right? In theory, that's what doctors should be doing. In practice, it's not humanly possible – at least that's what one surgeon admitted to Forbes magazine.

Don't panic – it's not racism, sexism, or anything discriminatory-based – it's human nature. According to the surgeon, patients who dress nicely make her feel guilty because she has to rush through them sometimes. But it's that guilt that subconsciously causes doctors to maybe give a little more extra care than they should – after all if someone's wearing their Sunday's best to come see you, wouldn't you instinctively take extra time with them because you know they put in so much effort to see you?

The surgeon says that doctors can't spend an equal amount of time with each of their patients all the time – when particular insurance companies require that doctors load up their day with the maximum amount of patients, doctors sometimes end up having to set different priority levels to waiting patients. And when they have to make these priority judgments on their feet, doctors may not realize that they're subtly being affected by how well a patient is dressing. Think about how you treat people in public who are dressed in suits or formal attire – you may reflexively be more cautious and respectful toward them. It happens to doctors too.

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The flip side is true too! The way your doctor dresses affects how you treat him – which affects the healthcare you get. Researchers found that over 50 percent of patients prefer doctors who wear white lab coats. They found that patients are more trusting of doctors who wear “doctor outfits” and are more willing to ask questions and disclose their social, psychological, and sexual problems. That means that if your doctor isn't wearing what you want him to wear, you'll lower the quality of your own healthcare by being less open to him and being less apt to ask questions.

Patients treat pharmacists the same way. Researchers found that pharmacists not wearing lab coats are deemed less approachable by patients. This is important because you might have a question about your medications that you'd like to ask your pharmacist (like drug or supplement interactions, or dosage clarification) and you end up not asking him just because he's not wearing a white coat!

Knowing all this, how can you maximize your healthcare? Well, for one, dress for success when going to see your doctor. You don't need to wear a wedding dress or prom gown. You should make yourself look important – like when you go for a job interview. If you hate your suit, try buying suit separates. StyleWe says that buying suit separates helps you mix and match your professional outfits, which gives you more versatile options so you're not stuck wearing the same stuffy suit.

The second thing you should always do is trust your doctor no matter how he dresses! Don't lower the quality of your own healthcare because you're judging your doctor by his looks. Be open and honest with your doctor and ask all the questions you want to ask. Don't hold anything back.

The way you and your doctor dress may affect your quality of medical care. If you dress up when you have a meeting with your boss because he decides the fate of your career, then why not do the same for your doctor – after all, he's a big factor in your health, which is more important than your job. Don't judge a cover by its book and be biased towards your doctor because of how he dresses either!