Do you trust a man in a suit?

There’s times in our lives where we feel the need to suit up – weddings, job interviews, court. If you take your advice from Barney Stinson there will be many more. What about work? Does wearing formal attire when treating patients increase your cred?

 

Dave Butler and Mick Thacker off to Tim Beames’ wedding. Both unrecognisable in suits – would you trust them?

 

If you’re looking to save some much needed time in the morning trying to decide what to wear, perhaps this study may give you some insight. Traeger et al. (2016) attempted to decipher if wearing formal attire, compared to casual wear, has an effect on your perceived credibility from patients.

 

“Credibility refers to the quality of being trusted of believed in. … Clinicians who are considered credible are likely to elicit changes in health attitudes and behaviors that are critical for effective first contact care. … Even inert treatments can affect health outcomes if patients perceive them to be credible. … Success or failure of many primary care treatments might therefore depend, at least in part, on credibility.”

 

And so this is what they tested in a single-blind randomized controlled trial (all the buzz words!). The same male clinician either wore a neck tie, suit jacket and trousers, or alternatively a collared polo shirt and non-tailed pants (like chinos). Information about the same treatment was presented to 128 patients with acute non-specific low back pain – the only difference was the clinican wore the suit for half, and the casual wear for the rest.

 

The result …

 

“In this study we provide evidence that the attire of the clinician does not influence perceptions of treatment credibility in patients who are about to receive patient education.”

 

So stiff, uncomfortable suits are out the window. But do we have any idea what can help our cred?

“Our secondary analysis found that neither patient characteristics such as pain intensity, disability, educational background, gender, and depression, nor the clinical setting in which the treatment took place, predicted treatment credibility. The age of the patient was the only significant predictor – older patients rated treatment credibility higher than younger patients, regardless of what the clinican was wearing.”

 

So the moral of the story – wear whatever you want and always keep time slots open for older clients.

 

– Hayley Leake

 

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2 Responses to “Do you trust a man in a suit?”

  1. davidboltononoi

    Hhhmmmm not so sure about that. Maybe I’m becoming an old fart but I was brought up believing that if you wanted to be taken seriously then dress seriously, out of respect. The environment we create is part of the treatment effectiveness and we are part of that environment. When we have an established reputation such that serotonin pours out the patients ears when they know they have secured an appointment with us then maybe we can turn up in only a thong and a bow tie. Otherwise I feel dress code is still an important part of our working environment and a gesture of respect for our patients…….

    Reply
  2. BlanaidCoveney0noi

    Hi Hayley,
    I like the thought that what you wear does not influence how credible you are perceived. I wonder though, if location would have any significant bearing on the attitudes. Do you think if the study were replicated in differing countries the results may be different? Isn’t it possible that if the cultural norms of a country/ city/region mean that formal attire is the accepted norm then dressing in the expected way may give an air of gravitas and therefore possibly credibility? But perhaps as you say that is the preserve of an older clientele. Regards Blanaid

    Reply

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