The authors examined physical health in relation to length of psychiatric hospitalization. One hundred and three consecutive patients admitted to an Ontario psychiatric hospital were studied for age, sex, marital status, living arrangements, previous psychiatric hospitalizations, psychiatric diagnosis and length of stay. The patients were classified as physically healthy, with minor or with major illness present.
Physical health was found to have a significant association with length of psychiatric hospitalization. Healthy patients tended to stay a shorter period of time (1–3 days) and those with major illness stayed longer (greater than 21 days). As expected, marital status and psychiatric diagnosis were also associated with length of stay; married persons stayed for shorter periods and those with functional and organic psychoses stayed longer.
The direct association between physical health and length of hospitalization has not been reported before and, in considering the role of the mental hospital, psychiatrists and administrators should be constantly aware of the physical health needs of psychiatric patients.