Web site spotlight: Wear colorful scrubs to ease fear

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, June 12, 2009

Hospitals can be a frightening place for children, which in turn creates a barrier of distrust nurses must work through in order to provide them with adequate care. However, recently released research suggests nurses can do less scaring and more caring for their facility's pediatric patients by brightening up their wardrobe.

A study published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing examining the effect of multicolored, nonconventional attire on hospitalized children found it improved children's and parents' perceptions of the nurses providing them care. These enhanced perceptions led to increased comfort for the pediatric patients and increased confidence amongst parents of the nurses' abilities.

While the nursing uniform has dramatically evolved over the past few decades, many nurses still shy away from those splashed with child-friendly prints for fear they detract from their professional image. But that wasn't the case with the parents in this study.

Researchers asked parents to rate the nurses on a one-to-five scale. Of their findings, parents' perceptions of nurses':

  • Adequacy in their role increased from 4.0 to 4.7
  • Ability to be reassuring rose from 4.0 to 4.5
  • Ability to not frighten their child rose from 4.4 to 4.7
  • Ability to be fun improved from 2.3 to 4.6

"By wearing creative and child-friendly scrubs, nurses demonstrate respect for the patients they are caring for and send a message that they understand children and their developmental needs," says Jill Duncan, RN, MS, MPH, director of the IHI Open School for Health Professions in Cambridge, MA.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from "Study finds multicolored scrubs brighten pediatric care" found in the Reading Room at Get a free trial membership that will give you 30 days to test drive all the exciting features on the Web site.

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