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Patients and the Habits of House Officers

Anastassios C. Koumbourlis, MD, MPH
JAMA. 1987;257(15):2032. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390150047016.
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To the Editor.—  In their article, Dunn et al1 find that house officers' attitudes regarding attire and etiquette are considered inappropriate by patients and they therefore recommend that physicians "adopt conservative habits to avoid displeasing a substantial segment of the patient population." Although differences in attitudes between physicians and patients may, as the authors point out, adversely affect the relationship that is essential for optimal care, their findings do not justify their recommendation.As the authors recognize, their findings represent only a segment of the population. Not surprisingly, it is the most conservative one, considering that the majority of the patients were middle-aged or older. Since the presumably inappropriate attitudes may be perceived differently by other segments of the population (children, for example, often perceive the white coat as threatening, while adolescents and teenagers usually feel more comfortable with somebody who dresses like them), it is hard to understand


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