Second, in emergency, surgical or intensive care settings, scrubs were not only preferred by patients, but also more often equated with professionalism. This makes sense, as in these more “hands-on,” procedure-oriented settings, formal suits, shirts and ties clearly seem out of place.

Finally, in doctors’ offices and outpatient clinics, scrubs were viewed unfavorably and often resulted in negative impressions.

Thus, from the patient’s perspective, a “one size fits all” approach may not work for doctor attire. Rather, the context in which a patient interacts with their doctor influences what they expect to see.


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Given the tension between infection risk and patient preferences, it is not surprising that disagreement about dress code also exists among physicians.