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January 1972

Psychiatric Staff: Uniforms or Street Clothes?

Author Affiliations

Rochester, NY
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY. Dr. Pillsbury is currently at the National Institute of Mental Health, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Bethesda, Md. Mr. Snell is currently at Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(1):19-22. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750190021005

An assessment was made of the impact upon an inpatient floor of nursing staff changing their traditional mode of dress. The study involved three stages, wherein staff members wore traditional white uniforms, changed to wearing street clothes, and returned to wearing uniforms. Attitudes toward and perceptions of oneself, others, and the ward in general were assessed for both patients and staff members during each stage. Twelve additional behavioral-clinical variables were also analyzed daily. Results indicated that relatively few pervasive differences were associated with particular clothing worn by staff members. The fact of change itself, however, proved disruptive. Furthermore, staff members attitudes about themselves and their roles substantially influenced the apparent level of patient psychopathology and the nature of staff treatment responses.