After our study came out, the medical news website MedPage Today reported results from an informal, but still telling, online survey of over 2,000 patients and physicians about the “best approach to dressing for patient encounters.”

About 30% of doctors polled stated that they preferred to wear scrubs, casual attire or had no particular preference when caring for patients. However, more than 60% stated that doctors should wear white coats.

The online comments differed widely, with some physicians defiant in stating that they had “never worn a white coat in 30 years,” while others proclaimed, “priests and judges have their robes, we have our white coats.”

And despite clear patient preferences about what doctors wear while working, even the top-ranked hospitals in the nation, only a handful offer formal guidance on attire. Many vaguely recommend that clothes be “professional,” but without defining what professional means?