Medical care in general hospitals is a collective activity and liaison psychiatrists may become part of this process. Cornerstones of successful management are co-operation with colleagues and ‘teamwork’, although these elusive goals are not always achieved. A shared uniform is one possible solution to improve this teamwork, the white coat being the livery of the hospital doctor. Furthermore, patients may appreciate a uniform. One survey of 200 North American general hospital in-patients showed the white coat to be surprisingly popular (Dunn et al, 1987); 65% of those replying wanted to see their doctor in a white coat. But the white coat is often unpopular with doctors and perhaps a more relevant question is whether it makes any difference to patient behaviour.
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