Surgeons Tend to Be the Tallest, Best-Looking Male Doctors, Study Finds

Among male doctors, surgeons tend to be the most handsome — but they're no match for actors who play doctors, a Spanish study shows.

The study, published in BMJ, isn't exactly scientific. It's a tongue-in-cheek project by doctors at the University of Barcelona's Hospital Clinic.

Antoni Trilla, MD, and colleagues recalled that in medical school, their most handsome, tallest male classmates tended to become surgeons.

So they asked 24 male doctors, including 12 surgeons, at their hospital for their snapshots and height measurements.

Trilla's team showed the photos to eight women working at the hospital (three doctors and five nurses).

The women rated the male doctors' appearance on a scale of 1-7 points, with 1 being "ugly" and 7 being "very good looking," the researchers write.

The surgeons were 51 years old, about 5-foot-10-inches tall, and got a good-looks rating of 4.4, on average.

The other doctors were a year younger, three inches shorter, and got nearly one less point on the good-looks ratings.

That may not sound like a big point difference, but it probably wasn't due to chance, Trilla's team writes.

For comparison, the researchers included pictures of four men known for playing doctors on TV or in movies.

Those actors are Harrison Ford, who played a brain surgeon in the film "The Fugitive," George Clooney when he was a regular on the TV show "ER," Patrick Dempsey, who plays a surgeon on the TV show "Grey's Anatomy" and Hugh Laurie, who plays a doctor on the TV show "House."

The surgeons were less handsome than the actors, who scored nearly 6 out of 7 points on the good-looks scale.

It's not clear if the findings apply to female doctors or younger male doctors, write the researchers, who didn't confirm the doctors' self-reported height.

They note that most of the surgeons and other doctors told them they were "pleased with their career choices and even with their looks."

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

SOURCE: Trilla, A. BMJ, Dec. 23-30, 2006; vol 333: pp 1291-1293. News release, BMJ.