Clothes Encounter: Patient Perception of Nursing Attire in a Behavioral Health Unit
AbstractBACKGROUND: In an acute behavioral health unit, patients’ perceptions of nurses can be influenced by the type of clothing they wear. OBJECTIVES: The purposes of this study were to determine if mental health patients had preferences related to nursing attire, to determine if patient preference varied with age, and to determine if nursing attire affected patients’ thoughts on approachability, competence, and professionalism. STUDY DESIGN: A six-question survey was distributed to patients who met specific criteria between August and December 2008. RESULTS: Overall, patients did not have a preference for the type of attire worn by staff. Identification of nurses was a concern for many. More than half of the respondents indicated approachability was not affected by attire; however, 29% said that street clothes made the nurse less approachable. Attire did not affect patient perception of competence or professionalism. CONCLUSION: As behavioral health care changes, staff attire may need to be reconsidered.