Exploring Design Requirements for a Functional Patient Garment: Hospital Caregivers' Perspective

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Title: Exploring Design Requirements for a Functional Patient Garment: Hospital Caregivers' Perspective
Author: Jha, Swetambali
Advisors: Traci Lamar, Committee Chair
Abstract: An investigation was carried out to understand the requirements of a patient gown from the perspective of hospital caregivers. Hospital gowns are unique functional garments as they have multiple end users. The same gown during its lifecycle is worn by many patients. Patients wear it wanting warmth, comfort, aesthetics and modesty. Caregivers, on the other hand want ease of access to patient's body, ease of donning and doffing, and functionality which would aid them in administering medical care. Therefore, any gown design should take the needs of all the end users into consideration. However, most attempts at redesigning the traditional patient gown have focused on the needs of the patient alone. The requirements of its second most important user, the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff (caregivers) have not been investigated in depth. This research aimed to establish the size and scope of the problems associated with the traditional patient gown from the caregiver’s point of view. This exploratory research, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was part of a larger project whose objective is to assess the requirements of patients, hospital administrators and caregivers and combine their requirements to develop a revolutionary patient gown that would satisfy the needs of all the stakeholders. The research employed a two pronged approach to distill requirements from the caregivers. Part I of the research focused on exploring the problems that caregivers face with the traditional patient gown and understanding how severe these issues were. This was accomplished by surveying 1200 hospital caregivers with a questionnaire. The sample included physicians (72), clinical nursing support (149), clinical professionals (234), clinical support staff (122), clinical technical staff (93) and registered nurse responsible for direct patient care (530). Part I, therefore defined the problem set and prioritized issues which needed in-depth investigation. Part II of the research aimed to establish a deep understanding of the issues by conducting five focus groups with caregivers from three large regional hospitals. The qualitative data obtained provided insights, detailed explanations and experiences which would have been difficult to obtain through surveys. The findings of the research indicate that all the hospitals in the study used the traditional gown. The survey and focus group response indicated that the traditional patient gown did not meet the accessibility and functionality needs of the caregivers. The majority of the caregivers felt that the current patient attire hindered their ability to efficiently perform medical procedures. In addition, they also felt that there was a strong relationship between the patient attire and their physical and emotional well being. The results suggest there is a need to replace the present attire with an improved and more functional garment.
Date: 2009-04-06
Degree: MS
Discipline: Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/20

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