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Health Aff (Millwood). 2009 May-Jun;28(3):676-84. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.28.3.676.

The changing role of the state psychiatric hospital.

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  • 1Center for Mental Health Services Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Worcester, USA.


State hospitals were once the most prominent components of U.S. public mental health systems. But a major focus of mental health policy over the past fifty years has been to close these facilities. These efforts led to a 95 percent reduction in the country's state hospital population. However, more than 200 state hospitals remain open, serving a declining but challenging patient population. Using national and state-level data, this paper discusses the contemporary public mental hospital, the forces shaping its use, the challenges it faces, and its possible future role in the larger mental health system.

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