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Conservatorship for gravely disabled psychiatric patients: a four-year follow-up study
Am J Psychiatry 1992;149:909-913.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The authors examined the conservatorship process in California by studying a group of psychiatric patients for whom conservatorship was sought; their goal was to determine its effectiveness both during and after the period of conservatorship. METHOD: The subjects were 60 county psychiatric hospital inpatients 18- 60 years old for whom temporary (30-day) conservatorships were obtained and who were followed for 4 years. The patients' courses over the 4 years were assessed in terms of whether 1-year conservatorships were obtained, stability (number and length of psychiatric hospitalizations, arrests, serious physical violence, and homelessness), and presence or absence of family support. RESULTS: The patients proved to be a severely mentally ill and disabled group. Thirty-five (58%) were granted a 1-year conservatorship sometime during the 4-year study period, and 25 (42%) were not. Both family support and conservatorship appeared to be related to the patients' stability. When one or both were present, there was a significantly greater likelihood of stability. CONCLUSIONS: The authors believe that for a considerable number of chronically and severely mentally ill individuals, conservatorship would play an important role in their clinical management and treatment by helping to eliminate their chaotic life styles, their cycle of admission and discharge from hospitals and jails, and/or their living on the streets, particularly when family support is absent.

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