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How should doctors decorate their consulting rooms?

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 16 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:433
  1. Martin Gaba, staff grade psychiatrist
  1. Luton

    How doctors decorate their consulting rooms can be a matter of style, personal preference, territorial imperatives, or culture. Some doctors believe that patients need to see certain images and motifs there. Take the average heterosexual middle aged clinician. He or she will have pictures of his or her family prominent on the desk, with kiddy drawings scattered around the walls. Doctors approaching retirement may have additional photos of grandchildren.

    Doctors should abstain from having family photos in their consulting rooms

    There is a widespread feeling in the medical profession that patients are reassured by seeing their doctor in a family role—one, it could be said, with which they can identify and which generates trust. Many doctors would recognise that having a family has immeasurably improved their consulting style; but is the consulting room truly the place to put the family on display? I really do not think so.

    After reflecting on the vulnerability of my patients, I have removed my family photos from my consulting …

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