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Article   |    
First Encounters: Effects of Intake Procedures on Patients, Staff, and the Organization
Hanna Levenson; Kenneth S. Pope
Psychiatric Services 1981; doi:
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Veterans Administration Medical Center San Francisco, California

San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Centers, Inc. Los Angeles, California

American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

To examine the influence of intake procedures on patients' appearance for therapy, information was gathered on two different intake procedures used on the outpatient service of a large mental health center. Prospective patients calling Team 1 were immediately assigned a therapist and given an appointment, while patients calling Team 2 were told a therapist would call them back to arrange an appointment. A review of the records of 308 patients who called the teams during four selected months in 1976-77 showed that Team 1's procedure resulted in patients being seen more promptly and in fewer patients being lost to the system. If this procedure were supplemented by therapists' calling patients before initial appointments, even fewer patients would be lost and fewer appointments broken. A suicide that occurred during the intake process is described in order to highlight procedural and psychological issues in the agency's handling of the case.

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