Objective: In 1988 a governor's commission in Oregon recommended dramatic changes in the state's approach to public psychiatric hospitalization. To evaluate the effect of the recommendations, this study examined characteristics of hospitalization for patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in public psychiatric facilities between 1981 and 1984 and between 1991 and 1994.
Methods: Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (N=621) were identified as part of a larger study that examined civil commitment in one of Oregon's state hospitals in 1986. Data on the patients' hospitalizations were obtained from a statewide computerized mental health information system.
Results: The legal status of hospitalized patients differed between the two time periods, with voluntary hospitalizations overrepresented in 1981-1984 and civil commitments overrepresented in 1991-1994. The locus of hospitalization varied greatly between the two time periods. All hospitalizations in 1981-1984 took place in one of Oregon's three state hospitals. In 1991-1994, subjects were hospitalized in 13 different institutions, including state and community hospitals and specially designed nonhospital inpatient facilities.
Conclusions: Patterns of inpatient hospitalization for public psychiatric patients changed dramatically from 1981-1984 to 1991-1994. The extensive use of community and nonhospital facilities raises questions about monitoring of quality of care in these diverse and decentralized facilities.