What you wear does not affect the credibility of your treatment: A blinded randomized controlled study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Patient Education and Counseling, 2017, 100 (1), pp. 104 - 111
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd Objective Professional appearance is easily modifiable, and might alter the effects of a clinical encounter. We aimed to determine whether professional attire influences a patient's perception of treatment credibility. Methods We performed a single-blind randomized controlled study on 128 patients with acute non-specific low back pain who were about to receive treatment in primary care. The treating clinician was randomly allocated to wear formal attire (experimental condition) or casual attire (control condition) to the consultation. Clinicians provided a standardized briefing on the rationale behind the patient's forthcoming treatment. Treatment credibility (Credibility and Expectancy Questionnaire) was assessed immediately after this briefing. Results All patients received the experimental or control condition as allocated and provided complete primary outcome data. Formal attire had no effect on perceived treatment credibility (Mean difference between groups 1.2 [95%CI-1.1 to 3.5]). Age was the only significant predictor of treatment credibility; older patients rated treatment credibility higher (Beta = 0.16 [95%CI 0.08 to 0.24]). Conclusion In a trial setting, whether or not a clinician is formally dressed has no effect on perceptions of treatment credibility in patients with acute low back pain. Practice implication Clinicians should dress comfortably without fear of losing credibility.
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