That Skimpy Hospital Gown Patients Hate: Project Seeks to Find an Alternative

During 2006–2008, a team at North Carolina State University College of Textiles in Raleigh investigated possible designs for a new patient gown and the market opportunity for such a product.

The work was the first phase of an effort to create an innovative, functional and aesthetically pleasing health care garment to replace the skimpy, tie-in-the-back gowns now widely used by hospitals and-for reasons of modesty and comfort—widely disliked by the people who wear them: the patients.

The team surveyed patients, health care providers and hospital purchasing agents to get their perspectives on the issue. The team also:

  • Conducted focus groups with hospital nurses.
  • Interviewed those who manufacture and distribute patient gowns.
  • Reviewed existing patents on health care garments as well as academic and popular literature on the topic.

Key Results/Findings

  • Analysis of survey results revealed that patients, health care providers and those in the supply chain had different priorities for the design of a new patient garment. The team's synthesis of the relationship of these priorities will inform the next phases of the effort to develop a new patient garment.

  • There have been many past attempts to introduce new patient garments and "modesty accessories," such as supplemental robes, but none of these products has won broad acceptance.

  • Sixty percent of the former hospital patients surveyed said they "disliked" or "disliked very much" wearing the traditional hospital gown; 45 percent reported the gown was uncomfortable.

  • Of the physicians, nurses and other hospital caregivers surveyed, 79 percent said the patient gown "sometimes" interfered with administering IVs, catheters, feeding tubes or other medical devices. Asked if they thought the gown affected the patient's emotional well being, 69 percent said "sometimes" and 19 percent said "always."