Psychiatric in-patients receive fewer greetings cards than other in-patients

Sudheer Lankappa , Sean A. Spence

Abstract

AIMS AND METHOD

Greetings cards (wishing patients well) appear less abundant on psychiatric wards than other inpatient facilities. We tested this hypothesis in three cross-sectional surveys of teaching hospitals in Sheffield.

RESULTS

On each occasion, psychiatric wards contained significantly fewer card recipients (χ2 test, P<0.001). Individual recipients in psychiatric wards received significantly fewer cards than recipients in general hospitals (Kruskal-Wallis test, P<0.05).

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS

Although receiving a card might seem a trivial matter, it nevertheless denotes the outcome of an altruistic act, which may be appreciated by its recipient. Psychiatric in-patients receive fewer such acts of kindness than other in-patients. These data concur with other recent reports suggesting that the stigma of mental illness extends to expressions of altruism.

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