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November 1959

Waiting for Hospitalization: A Study of Persons Placed on a Hospital Waiting List and of Their Families

Author Affiliations

Research Anthropologist (Dr. Landy) and Research Psychologist (Dr. Albert), Massachusetts Mental Health Center, and Research Associates, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

AMA Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1959;1(5):519-529. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1959.03590050087011

Introduction  Hospitalization for mental illness is a serious, and at times traumatic, event for both patients and their families. Once the family or the patient’s physician has decided that the patient should be hospitalized, waiting for hospitalization may be disruptive of family and individual emotional health. A survey of studies1,5 of hospital waiting lists reveals most of them to be unsatisfactory in terms of asking such questions as these: How does the family react to waiting-list placement? How does the potential patient react? What kinds of behaviors led to waiting-list placement? What factors contribute to the family’s perception of the pre-waitinglist situation as being or not being a critical one? The present study is an attempt to explore these questions.*This paper has as its main objective to describe the prospective patients, and to try to clarify the psychiatric and familial nature of persons placed

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