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April 1980

Alternative to Mental Hospital Treatment: III. Social Cost

Author Affiliations

From the School of Social Work and the Institute for Research on Poverty (Dr Test) and the Department of Psychiatry (Dr Stein), University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(4):409-412. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780170051005

• Much concern has been expressed over the possible burden placed on family and community members by programs that emphasize community treatment of severely disturbed patients. In this study, the social costs of an experimental in-community program were compared with those of a traditional approach using short-term hospitalization plus aftercare. Six objective and one subjective measures of the burden placed on the family members of patients in both groups were obtained. Community burden was assessed through police records of frequency of patient arrests, number of suicidal gestures that required medical attention, and frequency of emergency room use. All measures showed that the total in-community program resulted in no more burden on the family or community than the traditional approach. The large amount of support provided to patients, families, and community members in the experimental approach is emphasized in explaining these results.

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