Standard photos of doctors set bad example, say Radboud researchers

Doctor discussing with patientsStandard photographs of doctors supplied by photo agencies are usually inaccurate, show doctors breaking hygiene rules and set a bad example, according to researchers at Radboud University in Nijmegen.

The researchers, from the department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases, looked at 1,600 standard photos of doctors and nurses with patients. They found 89% of those featuring doctors showed one or more errors – mainly doctors with long sleeves and with their coats open.

Photographs of nurses were more accurate but still 30% showed nurses wearing rings or with the wrong hairstyle. Most nurses were also portrayed as female.

Social image

‘If we are striving for better adherence to the rules, we need to change the social image of doctors and change the production, selection and appearance of photo agency pictures,’ the researchers said in their report.

‘The overall image of a doctor in the stock photos is a handsome, middle-aged male with an open white coat, his tie is explicitly visible and he is wearing a watch,’ the researchers said.

‘Until stock photos are updated to reflect current best-practice for infection control, they should not be utilized in hospital or other healthcare settings,’ the researchers said.

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