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Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1985 Feb;36(2):168-72.

Patterns of staff perception of difficult patients in a long-term psychiatric hospital.


In a study to determine which psychiatric patients are perceived by staff as most difficult to treat, clinical staff from several disciplines rated problem behaviors of 127 long-term inpatients in a private psychiatric hospital; staff also rated overall treatment difficulty, progress, and prognosis. No single patient characteristic determined staff's perception of patients as difficult to treat. Instead, four clusters of patient characteristics contributed to this perception; in decreasing order of influence, they are withdrawn psychoticism, severe character pathology, suicidal-depressed behavior, and violence-agitation. The study also showed that the patients who are considered particularly difficult are perceived as improving less and as having a poor prognosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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