Hospital clothing for both patients and staff can be seen as a part of the environment due to cover requirements for good hygiene, procedures, and treatments including the care of the patient. Another reason for patient clothing is to signal equality in relation to care needs and to represent a basis for equivalent treatment. The clothing also facilitates control within the healthcare system since patients, visitors and staff can all be readily identified. From this point of view, patient clothing can contribute to objectification with a focus on disease and symptoms, and by doing so also contributes to optimal treatment of ill health. In general, clothing can be viewed as an embodiment of the self, closely associated with the individual’s identity, personality, self-esteem and self-confidence. Selfperception is usually rooted in a healthy existence. In contrast, wearing hospital clothing may diminish personal identity and may contribute to the adoption of passive and dependent patient and illness-related behavior. Such a self-image may lead to an attitude that may impede well-being and the healing process. Patient clothing may also impact the relationship between patients, doctors and nursing staff. How and to what extent patient clothing affects the healing process and care and treatment relationships is unclear. The overarching purpose of this article is to discuss the relationships and role allocation created between patients and hospital staff when patients wear hospital clothing and by extension, the type of care provided and whether the potential for recovery of health is affected.
Bergbom I, Pettersson M and Mattsson E