Patient and Staff Attitudes toward Clothing Restrictions on a Pediatric Psychiatric Unit
Schmidt, Scott Cameron
Pediatric psychiatric inpatients are among the most vulnerable individuals in society. While the use of seclusion and restraint is well chronicled in the field of research in this population, there are limited literature describing the effects, meaning, and attitudes of mandating the wear of clothing in hospital settings. This research explores the phenomenon of the practice of mandatory wear of hospital-issued clothing and its meaning to patients and the awareness and attitudes of this practice among staff caring for this population. This research aims to improve understanding of the experiences of patients regarding this practice at a large, urban hospital providing care for children using a mixed-methods design. A qualitative, descriptive phenomenological analysis was conducted through individual interviews with adolescent patients (N = 5) on an inpatient psychiatric unit. Additionally, a cross-sectional self-reported questionnaire examined the awareness and attitudes toward this practice among unit staff (N = 41). The patients’ attitudes toward clothing restrictions were predominantly negative, noting a lack of self-expression, feeling like a mental health patient, desires to wear ones’ personal clothing, impact on identity, and feelings of shame and punishment. Among the staff there was a modest correlation between age, number of years practicing as a health professional, and years practicing in a pediatric setting with feelings of a need for a change in the clothing policy to allow patients to wear their clothing on admission. Staff age and number of years working at the institution demonstrated a modest correlation between awareness of legal statutes regarding patients’ rights to their clothing. This research found a readiness among staff to adopt a clothing policy that would permit patients to wear their clothing on admission, which would improve the negative experiences described among the patients in the sample.
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