CURRENT psychiatric research has been increasingly concerned with mental illness as a family phenomenon. Most reports have focused on the internal family dynamics of selected patient groups, with only occasional attention paid to the relationships between aspects of current family structure and psychiatric morbidity. The association between marital status, for example, and mental illness is familiar clinically and has been documented epidemiologically: the single, separated, divorced, and widowed statuses all carry higher age-adjusted rates of first admission to mental hospitals.1
Many studies, however, have contained implicit observations about the relevance of family structure to psychiatric illness and treatment. Our interest in family structure was stimulated by the results of an earlier study2 of family reactions to day hospitalization, which demonstrated that a good prognosis in the day hospital was correlated with the family's active willingness to aid the patient in
Ferber A, Kligler D, Zwerling I, Mendelsohn M. Current Family Structure: Psychiatric Emergencies and Patient Fate. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(6):659–667. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730240015003
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