Don't Hang Up the White Coats Just Yet: A Systematic Review for Patient Preferences




Mozejko, Lisa
Brock, Crissie
Davis, Carissa
Gentry, Ashley


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Purpose: The objective of this systematic review was to assess the question, “Do patients have a preference for their physicians to wear white coats?” Methods: The criteria for article selection included (1) primary research articles that (2) had patient-reported data (3) for patient preference or patient attitudes toward (4) physicians wearing white coats. Data was extracted using individual articles review forms that assessed the research level, quality, and results for each article. Evidence base rating was assigned based on the results across articles. Results: Fifteen articles met inclusion criteria for this systematic review and were divided into two categories: (1) articles that assessed patient preferences for or attitudes toward white coats in primary care (n=5) and (2) those in specialty areas (n=10). Of the 5 articles that assessed patient preferences or attitudes in primary practice, 3 indicated that patients had a preference for white coats and that white coats were related to patient confidence, comfort, trust, and expectations. Across the 10 articles that assessed patient preferences or attitudes in specialty areas, 3 articles indicated a positive patient preference for white coats. Conclusions: The evidence base across the 5 articles for patient preference for or attitudes toward white coats in primary care indicates that patients do prefer the white coat; however, the evidence base across the 10 articles in specialty areas does not. Studies addressing preferences and attitudes toward white coats in the U.S. are limited. Future research should include prospective cohort studies, various patient groups in various settings, and controls for extraneous influences that may relate to preferences or attitudes.