Development of a Functional Maternity Hospital Gown Through User-Centered Design

Primary author: Chanmi Hwang
Co-author(s): Lindsay McCoy

Primary college/unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences
Campus: Pullman


Maternity hospital gowns are usually made according to a one-size-fits-all standard with full back openings which are physically and emotionally uncomfortable, not functional, and revealing. The purpose of this research was to understand the design requirements of patients and practitioners in order to develop a functional and sustainable maternity hospital gown design. The researchers applied user-centered design (UCD) methods to develop a new design based on data from market research (23 birthing institutions and 25 leading retailers) and focus group interviews (15 postpartum women). The researchers created a two-piece stretchy gown with an adjustable waist and a washable nursing breast pad insert system which contributed to the gowns overall fit, mobility, closure access, modesty, and tactile comfort. Through wear trials (5 women) and an online survey (501 women and 42 practitioners), participants found the prototype to be successful in enhancing physical and psychological comfort throughout different stages of labor and postpartum, resulting in a novel maternity gowns concept that address many needs of both patients and practitioners. The resulting technical package includes the order of operations, bill of materials, marker layout, and cost analysis for the new design which can be tested for mass production. Future research may explore partnering with a manufacturing company such as Medline, the largest manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies, to conduct a patient satisfaction survey after implementing the new design.