Use of non-conventional nurses' attire in a paediatric hospital: a quasi-experimental study

J Clin Nurs. 2009 Apr;18(7):1018-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02430.x.


Aims: To test the impact of a multi-coloured non-conventional attire on a population of children admitted to a paediatric hospital.

Design: Quasi-experimental before-after controlled study.

Background: It has been suggested that non-conventional nurses' uniforms in paediatric settings may contribute to lowering children's distrust towards healthcare providers and reduce fear. Little formal research has investigated on the impact of nursing attire in a paediatric setting. No study has so far analysed the effects in actual use of a non-conventional, other than the traditional type of uniform, on a paediatric hospitalised population. Design: A quasi-experimental study.

Methods: We introduced multi-coloured nurses' attire in two wards of a paediatric hospital. Using open questions and semantic differential scales (SDS), we evaluated the effects of this non-conventional attire on a group of hospitalised children, compared to sex-and-age-matched controls interviewed before the introduction. Parents were also interviewed.

Results: One hundred and twelve hospitalised children and their parents (n = 112) were studied. The percentage of positive words used by children to define their nurse was higher in children interviewed after the introduction of non-conventional uniforms (96.2% vs. 81.8%, p = 0.01). Children's perception of nurses was significantly improved by the use of multi-coloured attire ('bad'-'good' SDS: p = 0.01; 'disagreeable'-'nice' SDS: p = 0.001). Children's perceptions regarding hospital environment did not change. Parents' perception of nurses' uniform adequacy to the role and capability to reassure resulted improved (p < 0.0001, p = 0.0003).

Conclusions: Multi-coloured non-conventional attire were preferred by hospitalised children and their parents. Their introduction improved the perception children have of their nurses. Moreover, the coloured uniforms improve the parents perception about the reliability of the nurse.

Relevance to clinical practice: The use of non-conventional nurses' attire can contribute to improve the child-nurse relation, which has the potential to ease the discomfort experienced by children due to hospitalisation.

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Clothing / psychology*
  • Color
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Nurse's Role / psychology
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital* / psychology
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Professional Competence
  • Semantic Differential
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust