Research Articles

Patient preferences regarding the dress code, conduct and resources used by doctors during consultations in the public healthcare sector in Bloemfontein, Free State

J. W. van der Merwe, M. Rugunanan, J. Ras, E-M Röscher, B. D. Henderson, G. Joubert
South African Family Practice | Vol 58, No 3 : May/June| a5666 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v58i3.5666 | © 2022 J. W. van der Merwe, M. Rugunanan, J. Ras, E-M Röscher, B. D. Henderson, G. Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 November 2022 | Published: 01 May 2016

About the author(s)

J. W. van der Merwe, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
M. Rugunanan, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
J. Ras, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
E-M Röscher, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
B. D. Henderson, Division Clinical Genetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
G. Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Abstract

Background: The doctor–patient relationship is important in determining the quality of healthcare provided. This study aimed to identify patient preferences regarding dress code, conduct and resources used by doctors during consultations in the public healthcare sector, Bloemfontein. Information from this study can be of benefit in determining policies and dress codes within hospitals and medical schools.

Methods: This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study. Self-administered anonymous questionnaires were distributed at Bloemfontein’s National District Hospital to patients 18 years and older, waiting in the pharmacy and consultation queues.

Results: Of the 500 questionnaires distributed 410 were analysed. Patients preferred doctors to wear formal attire. For female doctors this included a neat blouse (77.9%), smart pants (62.5%) or straight-cut jeans (51.4%) and flat pumps (56.3%). Patients preferred male doctors to wear collared shirts (52.4% and 57.6% for long- and short-sleeved shirts, respectively) with smart pants (66.8%) or straight-cut jeans (45.9%), and smart shoes (70.3%). Patients did not condone eating and drinking by doctors during consultations; work-related calls were deemed acceptable. The use of technological resources was not preferred.

Conclusion: Patients in the public healthcare sector prefer a formal, professional consulting environment that is determined largely by the doctor’s attire and conduct during the consultation.


Keywords

dress-code; patient preferences; professional attire; professional behaviour; technology use

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