Research Article

Psychiatric morbidity of a long stay hospital population with chronic schizophrenia and implications for future community care.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 01 October 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:819
  1. D. A. Curson,
  2. M. Patel,
  3. P. F. Liddle,
  4. T. R. Barnes
  1. Charter Clinic Chelsea, London.


    In the United Kingdom there are plans to close most mental hospitals over the next 10 years. There is continuing uncertainty about the effectiveness of community psychiatric services that will be expected to cope with mental hospital inpatients after discharge, most of whom have schizophrenia. A survey was conducted to assess the severity of illness among such patients and implications for their future care. All 222 patients in non-psychogeriatric long stay wards of a mental hospital who met research diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia were interviewed by two psychiatrists with the comprehensive psychopathological rating scale to establish the prevalence of psychiatric symptomatology. A complete interview was not possible for 28 patients, mainly for reasons related to their schizophrenia. Despite energetic pharmacological and social treatments almost half of the 194 patients interviewed had enduring florid psychotic symptoms that presented as one or more delusions or auditory hallucinations, or both, and a sizable proportion showed behaviour that would set them apart in a community setting. The results illustrate a problem that is still imperfectly understood by policy makers and administrators in central and local government and in health authorities who are responsible for planning and implementing services for psychiatric care in the community.