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Title: Patients' preferences for general practitioners' dress, mode of address, age and consulting style
Author: McKinstry, Brian
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis presents four related pieces of research around the theme of how doctors present themselves to, and are perceived by, patients in the general practice consultation. The first study used photographs to examine patients' preferences for the way their general practitioners dress. It showed that patients preferred their doctors to dress in a formal or traditional way. Forms of dress associated with social success (a smart suit) and medical expertise (white coat) were found to be particularly popular. The second study used structured questionnaires to examine patients' preferences for how they wish to address and be addressed by their general practitioner. It showed that, while many patients were willing to have doctors refer to them by first name, they are unwilling to use the doctor's own first name. This may suggest willingness by patients to accord their general practitioner higher social status than themselves, or at least show deference to medical knowledge by use of the title. The third study also used structured questionnaires to explore patients' attitudes to the age of their doctor. The results of this study were inconclusive. Older doctors were accorded more positive attributes, and were considered to have more authority than younger doctors, but the distinction between age groups was most strongly influenced by the perception of younger doctors being up to date in their medical knowledge and the perceived greater experience of older doctors than any difference in authority. These three pieces of research suggested the possibility that, at least some patients, sought a doctor who presented as an expert or authoritative figure, and possibly a maternal/paternal figure, willing to take control of the consultation. This ran contrary to the prevailing view among medical educators that decision making in the consultation should almost always be shared between doctor and patient. This latter view appeared to be held on ideological grounds.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (M.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available