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Psychotropic Drugs and the Origins of Deinstitutionalization

William Gronfein
Social Problems
Vol. 32, No. 5 (Jun., 1985), pp. 437-454
DOI: 10.2307/800774
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800774
Page Count: 18
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Psychotropic Drugs and the Origins of Deinstitutionalization
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Abstract

The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill represents an important set of changes in the provision of mental health services. These changes involved the movement of patients out of state hospitals and the formulation of policies designed to promote community-based treatment alternatives. This paper examines the impact of psychotropic drugs on both population shifts and policy development. Using data on changes in discharge rates before and after the drugs were introduced in the mid 1950s, I find that the drugs did not affect movement out of the hospital significantly. I conclude that the introduction of psychotropic drugs encouraged policy changes that hastened the process of deinstitutionalization in the 1960s.

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