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.
449 pet owners.
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.
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.