Hospital Gowns

During my final year in college, I became very interested in hospital gown design. A product which has not seen any major changes for over a century, the hospital gown is universally reviled and simultaneously ubiquitous across hospital environments all over the world. The white gown shown here was used just under a century ago, but is fundamentally identical to hospital gowns used today.

 

I set out to research and study the hospital gown issue. By conducting interviews, user testing, and product development, I was able to discover many of the most pressing pain points of modern hospital gown design. At the end of the project, I also designed and produced several prototype gowns which incorporate features based on my research data.     View my full research compilation >

 

I formed a framework for researching and designing hospital gowns by reviewing previously conducted studies. These frameworks for user-centered hospital gown design came from a series of studies conducted by KyeongSook Cho. I mainly used these frameworks to inform how I approached interviews and user studies.

I conducted several interviews to better inform my design process. One person I spoke to was the head of the local laundering plant which handles the linens for nearby businesses. This gave me insight into the lifespan of a gown and some of the challenges associated with their deterioration.

Interviews and insights can be viewed in my research compilation book >

 

One insight I gained through interviews and research is that nurses will often use two hospital gowns to fully cover the back and front sides of a patient, effectively creating a makeshift robe. Despite this fact, a proper robe option is not offered in most hospitals.

 

User testing allowed me to simulate activities that would be performed within hospital environments (such as pulling an IV stand around) and observe how current hospital gown designs hinder patient movement.

By marking, cutting, and sewing gown pattern pieces, I was able to quickly test and refine the features for the prototype gowns. Using plain white linen material for the early prototypes allowed me to make notes directly on the problematic parts of the gown. The gown prototype shown here borrows design elements from robes, such as a belt that can be tied around the front.

My final deliverable was a set of hospital gown prototypes which incorporated features based on my research. Each prototype gown targets a specific user group within the hospital environment: ambulatory patients, patients transitioning from a bedridden to an ambulatory state, and bedridden patients.

Skills

Medical Design, Product Design, Product Research, Social Design