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J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2014 Jan-Feb;51(1):13-6. doi: 10.3928/01913913-20140106-05.

Physician use of white coats in pediatric ophthalmology.



Recent literature reports that patients and parents of pediatric patients prefer their physician to wear a white coat and to address them informally. This study aims to characterize current practice patterns of pediatric ophthalmologists regarding their use of white coats and salutations during outpatient pediatric encounters.


An eight-question survey was e-mailed to members of the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus in 2012. The questions focused on clinical setting, use of white coats in out-patient encounters, and preferred language used to address the patient's parents. Surveys not completed in full were excluded from data analysis.


Of approximately 1,266 members who received the survey, 606 completed the survey. Five hundred ninety-nine surveys were included in the data analysis. Sixty-three percent of attending physicians and 80% of fellows reported they did not routinely wear white coats while examining outpatient children. Forty-six percent of attending physicians and 48% of fellows addressed the patient's parents as "mom" or "dad". There was no significant association between wearing a white coat and type of practice setting, practice characteristics, or location in a children's hospital for attending physicians or fellows.


Contrary to preferences expressed by patients and their parents, a majority of pediatric ophthalmologists do not routinely wear white coats during pediatric outpatient examinations. Practice patterns appear to be in line with previously reported parental greeting preferences.

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