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Article   |    
Length of Hospitalization and Outcome of Commitment and Recommitment Hearings
Charles D. H. Parry; Eric Turkheimer
Psychiatric Services 1992; doi:
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This research was supported by grant R03 MH44065-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The financial assistance of the Institute for Research Development of the Human Sciences Research Council is also acknowledged.

Center for Epidemiological Research, Southern Africa; located, Capetown, agency of the South Africa Medical Research Council

Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Gilmer Hall, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903

1992 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Despite extensive legislative reformulation of civil commitment procedures, empirical studies have shown that civil commitment hearings continue to be largely nonadversarial. The authors observed all civil commitment hearings during a three-month period at a large state hospital in Virginia and examined the characteristics of patients and the actions of attorneys, clinical examiners, and judges as a function of the length of time the patient had been in the hospital. The analysis revealed that as the length of a patient's hospitalization increased, the hearings became shorter and less adversarial; patients tended to show fewer signs of acute psychiatric illness and more signs of chronic schizophrenia. The implications of these findings for civil commitment policy are discussed.

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