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September 1963

Methods for Reliable Longitudinal Observation of Behavior: Development of a Method for Systematic Observation of Emotional Behavior on Psychiatric Wards

Author Affiliations

Adult Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health (Dr. Bunney). Present address: Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif (Dr. Hamburg).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(3):280-294. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720150090010

The purpose of this study was to develop a method for the observation and recording on a psychiatric ward of behavioral data which could be correlated with biochemical measurements and used to follow the "natural history" of a mental illness on a continuous day-to-day basis. Many biochemical studies of mental illness have suffered from a lack of systematic, detailed recording and quantification of behavioral data.

In hospitals where the staff-to-patient ratio is relatively high, the opportunities for utilizing systematic observational and rating techniques are encouraging. The patients are likely to be seen in a variety of settings by each observer and the atmosphere often promotes expression of feelings and thoughts.

A continuous 24-hour longitudinal approach has been suggested by a number of workers, but it has usually been impractical because of the limitations of time or personnel. In the great majority of circumstances, it would

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