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Letters to the Editor

Nonpreference for the white coat in Pediatric Ophthalmology Department

Kothari, Mihir T1,2,; Mulay, Swapna1

Author Information
Indian Journal of Ophthalmology: January 2017 - Volume 65 - Issue 1 - p 72-73
doi: 10.4103/0301-4738.202316a
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We read with interest the recent study by Iram et al.[1] They have reported that the patients and caregivers preferred the white coat as their physician's attire in an oculoplasty unit in urban India. Similar study by Reddy et al.[2] from the USA recommended that in Pediatric Ophthalmology Department, the pediatric ophthalmologist should consider wearing white coat as it was preferred by their patients and caregivers. On the contrary, the majority of the pediatric ophthalmologists or their fellows surveyed in the USA did not routinely wear white coat due to the so-called “white coat phobia” in the children.[3]

We evaluated the patients’ preferences, their caregivers’ preferences, and pediatric ophthalmologists’ preferences toward the attire of the pediatric ophthalmologists in a tertiary pediatric eye care center in India.

One-hundred and five consecutive patients and their caregivers visiting a standalone pediatric ophthalmology practice in urban India were shown a single set of five photographs [Fig. 1] either before or after the consultation with their male pediatric ophthalmologist. We also surveyed responses of 16 pediatric eye surgeons for their personal preferences toward their attire (what they wore currently) and also what they presumed would be the preference of their patients and caregivers toward their attire based on a two-item questionnaire [Table 1].

Figure 1
Figure 1:
Set of five photographs used in this study showing their pediatric ophthalmologist in different attires
Table 1
Table 1:
Questionnaire for the preferences of the pediatric ophthalmologists toward their own attire as well as what they presumed would be the preferences of their patients and caregivers

Of total 105 respondents (patients and caregivers), 54 (51%) were males. The mean age of them was 29.3 years (range, 4–65 years). The majority of respondents (whether male or female, higher educated or lesser educated, whether surveyed before or after meeting the doctor) did not prefer the white coat for their pediatric ophthalmologist [Table 2]. Eighty-two percent children as well as adults did not prefer a white coat.

Table 2
Table 2:
Preferences of the patients and their caregivers toward the attire of the pediatric ophthalmologist

Pediatric ophthalmologists (n = 16, 8 males) themselves also did not prefer to wear a white coat and also rightly presumed that their patients as well as caregivers would also not prefer white coat [Table 3].

Table 3
Table 3:
What a pediatric ophthalmologist wore (q1) and what they presumed would be the preferences of the patients and their caregivers toward their attire (q2) (n=16)

Neither patients and their caregivers nor the pediatric ophthalmologists preferred surgical scrub.

Based on these findings, we believe that the pediatric ophthalmologists in urban India may continue to avoid wearing white coats in the clinics.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

1. Iram S, Prakash WD, Ali MJ, Dave TV, Naik MN. Preferences of ophthalmic plastics patients and their caregivers toward the doctors’ attire and initial communications: A tertiary eye care study Indian J Ophthalmol. 2016;64:448–51
2. Reddy AK, Coats DK, Yen KG. An evidence-based approach to physician etiquette in pediatric ophthalmology J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2011;48:336–9
3. De Benedictis CN, Liu GT, Nelson LB, Leiby BE, Dai Y, Levin AV. Physician use of white coats in pediatric ophthalmology J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. 2014;51:13–6
© 2017 Indian Journal of Ophthalmology | Published by Wolters Kluwer – Medknow