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Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1981 Mar;32(3):188-93.

Sexual and emotional intimacy between psychiatric inpatients: formulating a policy.


The management of sexual and emotional intimacy among inpatients is a prominent concern on psychiatric units. A survey of psychiatrists on 70 psychiatric units throughout Ontario shows that the percentage of units that separated the involved patients was roughly the same as the percentage that supported the relationships; however, the largest percentage reported using other methods. None of the units had a written policy for approaching these situations. The authors describe how two such relationships were handled on their own unit, and outline variables--pertaining to the involved patients, the milieu, and the treating psychiatrist--to consider in handling such relationships. They believe a general policy can be formulated that will ensure a consistent, as well as flexible, approach to patient intimacy.

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