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Investigation of the effects of veterinarians’ attire on ratings of trust, confidence, and comfort in a sample of pet owners in Canada

Jason B. Coe1Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Rachel O'Connor1Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Christina N. Pizzolon1Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Kimberly A. Hester1Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Leandra J. Nogueira Borden1Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Derek Haley1Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine companion animal owners’ perceptions of appropriate veterinarian attire and investigate potential associations between a veterinarian's attire and clients’ ratings of trust in, confidence in, and comfort with a veterinarian.

SAMPLE

449 pet owners.

PROCEDURES

Participants were randomly assigned to complete a questionnaire containing photos of a male or female model veterinarian photographed in 8 attire types (formal attire, white dress shirt with black pants, white casual shirt with khaki pants, surgical scrubs, white casual shirt with jeans, surgical scrub top with jeans, surgical scrub top with khaki pants, and white laboratory coat with khaki pants). Participants were asked to rate their trust in, confidence in, and comfort with the pictured individual on a response scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high), rank photos according to their preferences for attire, and provide input on the importance of attire and other appearance-related subjects. Attire and gender of photographed individual and participant demographics were investigated for associations with trust, confidence, and comfort scores.

RESULTS

Most (317/445 [71%]) respondents indicated veterinarians’ attire was important. Attire type was significantly associated with respondents’ trust, confidence, and comfort scores. Model veterinarian gender and participant education level were also associated with trust and comfort scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Veterinarians’ attire is a form of nonverbal communication that is likely to inform clients’ first impressions and may influence clients’ trust in, confidence in, and comfort with a veterinarian. Veterinary personnel and veterinary management should consider how attire and general appearance represent staff members or their practice.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine companion animal owners’ perceptions of appropriate veterinarian attire and investigate potential associations between a veterinarian's attire and clients’ ratings of trust in, confidence in, and comfort with a veterinarian.

SAMPLE

449 pet owners.

PROCEDURES

Participants were randomly assigned to complete a questionnaire containing photos of a male or female model veterinarian photographed in 8 attire types (formal attire, white dress shirt with black pants, white casual shirt with khaki pants, surgical scrubs, white casual shirt with jeans, surgical scrub top with jeans, surgical scrub top with khaki pants, and white laboratory coat with khaki pants). Participants were asked to rate their trust in, confidence in, and comfort with the pictured individual on a response scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high), rank photos according to their preferences for attire, and provide input on the importance of attire and other appearance-related subjects. Attire and gender of photographed individual and participant demographics were investigated for associations with trust, confidence, and comfort scores.

RESULTS

Most (317/445 [71%]) respondents indicated veterinarians’ attire was important. Attire type was significantly associated with respondents’ trust, confidence, and comfort scores. Model veterinarian gender and participant education level were also associated with trust and comfort scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Veterinarians’ attire is a form of nonverbal communication that is likely to inform clients’ first impressions and may influence clients’ trust in, confidence in, and comfort with a veterinarian. Veterinary personnel and veterinary management should consider how attire and general appearance represent staff members or their practice.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Coe (jcoe@uoguelph.ca).