What is the white-coat effect and how should it be measured?

Thomas G. Pickering, William Gerin, Amy R. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (SciVal)


The white coat effect is conceived as a measure of the blood pressure response to a clinic visit, but there is no agreement as to exactly how it should be defined. The most widely used definition is the difference between the average clinic and daytime ambulatory blood pressures, but other methods that have been used include the difference between clinic and home pressures, measurements using ambulatory blood pressures only, clinic measurements only, and laboratory (reactivity) testing. Few studies have compared the different methods, but the reactivity method has reported bigger changes of blood pressure and heart rate than the others. The effect tends to be greater in older than younger patients, in women than in men, but is present to a greater or lesser degree in almost all hypertensive patients. It is diminished but not obliterated by drug treatment. It is not closely related to overall blood pressure variability, and does not predict cardiovascular risk. The white coat effect appears to be idiosyncratic to the clinic setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-300
Number of pages8
JournalBlood Pressure Monitoring
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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