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OBJECTIVE To determine how veterinarians' attire affected clients' perceptions and trust in the small animal emergency medicine setting.

DESIGN Cross-sectional study.

SAMPLE 154 clients of a 24-hour small animal emergency clinic in a rural location.

PROCEDURES A survey was administered to clients in the waiting room over a 1-month period to elicit their impressions of veterinarians' attire in various clinical scenarios and whether that attire would affect their perceptions. Respondents completed the survey after examining photographs of 1 male and 1 female veterinarian in 5 styles of attire (business, professional, surgical, clinical, and smart casual).

RESULTS 83 (53.9%) respondents were female, and 71 (46.1%) were male; age was evenly distributed. Across all clinical scenarios, the most common response was no preference regarding the way a male or female veterinarian was dressed and that this attire would have no effect on the respondents' trust in their veterinarian. Most respondents were indifferent or preferred that their veterinarians not wear neckties and white coats. Twenty-six percent (40/154) of respondents indicated that they believed their veterinarian's attire would influence their opinion of the quality of care their pet received.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE In this small animal emergency medicine setting, most clients indicated no preference regarding their veterinarian's attire, yet approximately one-fourth indicated this attire would influence their perception of the quality of care their pet received. Further studies are warranted in other practice settings and locations to determine whether these findings are generalizable or unique to this particular setting.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association