The Hospital Gown’s Role in a Patient’s Well-Being
“Lying in bed in a hospital gown is what nightmares are made of. It is an experience I definitely don’t like to remember,” says Veronica, who underwent weeks of hospital bed rest during her pregnancy. It is a sentiment echoed by many people worldwide no matter their reason for care. And surprisingly, it’s not necessarily the physical discomfort, potential pain, or the inherent fear of disease or death that haunts a hospitalized patient.
No, it is the thought of losing one’s independence, comfort, and dignity. Though Veronica left the hospital with a healthy baby in her arms, reflecting on that period of time easily conjures up the strong feelings of helplessness and vulnerability she felt during her hospital stay.
The uniform that identifies a patient as sick
Any hospitalization curtails one’s social life, bringing an abrupt stop to not only happy activities but the daily routines we take for granted. Once in the hospital, autonomy is lost. Mobility is restricted, and most patients are confined to their hospital bed. It can feel like all rights suddenly cease to exist. Authority over mealtimes, grooming, and even how you dress is all dictated by someone else. And what represents the entirety of this uncomfortable experience? The ugly, uncomfortable, ill-fitting hospital gown. Rather than being a source of comfort, it alone embodies the patient’s feelings of vulnerability and their loss of authority and dignity during the experience.
Veronica recollects the extra-large gown she was given to accommodate her baby bump: a garment that made her feel exposed and uncomfortable. She told us, “A kind nurse did provide me with a double gown so that I could maintain my modesty. Unfortunately, it only made me feel like I was being gift-wrapped in layers.” Veronica chuckles remembering the draggy, faded garb she had to wear, its numerous ties and flailing flaps making trips to the toilet or taking a short walk challenging. ”Teeming with anxieties and apprehensions over my baby’s health, I wouldn’t have expected to be concerned over a dress I lie in bed wearing. But the hospital gown affects your mood and manages to get on your nerves at times.”
For such a simple item, the hospital gown plays a crucial role in a patient’s mood and perspective. Though dignity and personalized care are given due importance in current-day clinical practices, hospital gowns are often forsaken by hospital administrators and doctors as well as patients even though the simple garment has the power to affect a patient’s mental health and well-being. The oversight is curious since it is well documented that a positive mental attitude can help immensely with patient recovery.
Patient perception of the standard gown
Patients are typically not allowed to wear their own clothes or those they are comfortable in, and instead are called to change into the dreaded hospital gown at entry. Few consider bringing their own garment even though the practice is generally accepted. A study exploring the perceptions regarding hospital gowns found that patients associate the garment with feelings of loss of health, being sick, and losing control to medical professionals. Patients claimed to feel vulnerable, disempowered, and embarrassed by the current design of hospital gowns. And contrary to the intended purpose, more than half of the patients struggled to wear the gown. Almost 72% of patients felt exposed. More than half complained of feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable. Though the hospital is a place to get well and recuperate your health, the hospital gown is instead adding to a patient’s stress and diminishing mental health.
Physicians also acknowledge that the current model for hospital gowns prevent them from experiencing a side of their patient’s personality. It quite literally cloaks a person into a uniform rather than an expression of themselves.
Reinventing the hospital gown
The hospital gown—the symbol of the unpleasant and traumatic part of a hospital stay—must be addressed seriously. Arkeras is leading the way. We have reinvented the hospital gown to address all of the above: enhancing a patient’s autonomy, comfort, and dignity, to best maintain a positive mental framework during any stage of care.
Arkeras gowns are made from naturally sourced, comfortable materials that can be laundered and reused many, many times. With the aim of boosting one’s sense of well-being and independence, our designers made sure the gowns are easy to put on and take off—even for patients with limited mobility. Our apparel ensures easy access for doctors and nurses, while maintaining one’s modesty at all times.
Though we can’t remove any suffering, we can assure that a patient feels comfortable—and maybe even a little elegant—while dressed in a beautiful but highly functional hospital gown. Whether it is an extended hospital stay or a day procedure—we’ve got you covered!
At Arkeras, we take the patient experience seriously. Dignity is a fundamental right for all, and our hospital gowns are designed to provide just that. Check out our collection to find the hospital gown that is most suitable for you!
Dr. Veena Angle is a freelance writer and medical communications expert with a passion for simplifying scientific jargon.
- Lucas CM, Dellasega C. Finding common threads: how patients, physicians and nurses perceive the patient gown. Patient Experience Journal. 2020;7(1):51-64.
- Cogan N, Morton L, Georgiadis E. Exploring the effect of the hospital gown on wellbeing: a mixed methods study. The Lancet. 2019 Nov 1;394:S32.
- Morton L, Cogan N, Kornfält S, Porter Z, Georgiadis E. Baring all: The impact of the hospital gown on patient well‐ British Journal of Health Psychology. 2020 Sep;25(3):452-73.
- Zainab M. Enhancing Patient dignity by considering new innovations in hospital gowns: A qualitative study using one-to-one interviews. World Wide Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development. 2021; 7(2): 18-22