HISTORICAL investigations of patient movement in mental hospitals tend to show that the recent past compares poorly with the present in terms of length of stay in the hospital.1,2 One gets the impression from these studies that the further back one goes in time, the longer was a patient's term of hospitalization. Most of the available research, however, covers too short a time span to indicate whether this generalization can be applied throughout the entire history of American psychiatry.
Kramer et al,3 in a study of first admissions to Warren State Hospital, Pennsylvania from 1916-1950, demonstrated that the proportion of patients of the same age and diagnosis who were hospitalized one year or longer decreased consistently from the earliest period studied to the latest. Bockoven,4 however, using earlier historical data showed that the first half of the 19th century was characterized by relatively short periods of hospitalization
SAVINO MT, BRODY SA. Discharge and Death Rates in California State Hospitals: 1852-1954. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(5):475-484. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730170027005