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Study: Psychiatric Patients Receive Fewer 'Get Well Soon' Wishes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 13, 2006

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND--Patients with mental illnesses in psychiatric hospitals, or in-patient psychiatric wards of general hospitals, tend to receive significantly fewer "get well soon" cards than patients with physical illnesses or injuries, new research reveals.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield surveyed patient rooms in both kinds of facilities and found that psychiatric in-patients "receive fewer such acts of kindness than other in-patients". The results were published this week in the Psychiatric Bulletin by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The study's authors, Professor Sean Spence and Dr. Sudheer Lankappa, concluded that psychiatric patients might be isolating themselves because of their feelings of shame about their illness, or fear that others -- such as employers -- would learn of their diagnoses.

The authors also suggested that friends and family members might feel less hopeful for such patients' recovery, or might worry that phrases in greeting cards that would normally be seen as encouraging, might actually be considered offensive.

"Our findings clearly expose the stigma attached to mental illness and psychiatric disorders," Professor Spence told the Yorkshire Post. "Every card denotes a sequence of actions: card selection, writing the message, delivering the card."

"The notion that such actions occur less often with psychiatric patients provides an insight into the way our patients are treated by others. Despite a strong emphasis on integration and the reduction of stigma, following their admission to hospital, psychiatric patients are indeed treated differently to others, and this treatment implicates those who are closest to them."

Related Abstract:
"Psychiatric in-patients receive fewer greetings cards than other in-patients" (Psychiatric Bulletin)

http://pb.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/29/12/449

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