Objective: To describe the effect of physicians' dress on patient confidence and trust.
Design: A prospective crossover trial involving physicians dressed in "respectable" versus "retro" attire.
Setting: A general medicine ward at a tertiary hospital.
Participants: 12 male general physicians and 1680 patients.
Main outcome measures: Patient trust and confidence as measured by a questionnaire mailed after hospital discharge.
Results: Formal attire was correlated with higher patient confidence and trust. Nose rings were particularly deleterious to patients' reported trust and confidence. A minimum threshold of two items of formal attire (dress pants, dress shirt, tie, or white coat) were necessary to inspire a reasonable amount of confidence; this is the NND (number needed to dress).
Conclusions: We highlight the need for more research into the effects of physician dress, and coin the term "evidence-based dressing".
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