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May 1973

Power Processes and Patient Behaviors

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(5):683-688. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750350063012

The proposition that the distribution of power to patients by the staff of a psychiatric ward results in greater patient activity and less patient disruptiveness was examined. Using Richard Emerson's conceptulization of power behaviors, a system for scoring staff power giving and building was developed and used to score ward meetings for two months. The measures of staff attempts to give power to patients were positively related to greater patient participation in a ward meeting and more patient activity throughout the day. When staff took power from patients in certain ways, troublesome patient behaviors more often occurred. The data show that staff power giving may be a reaction to patient behaviors as well as determinants of them.

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