Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2-3-1960


General hospital care for the mentally ill is increasing. In this study, a community hospital that has recently established an open psychiatric unit was investigated on the dimension of informal organization among nurse administrators: director of nursing service, supervisors, head nurses, and charge nurses. Attitudes toward mental illness and the mentally ill held by general nurses are not, according to available studies, consonant with those of psychiatric nurses. The problem posed was the effect on attitudes of general nurses after they had worked in a psychiatric division as manifest by their integration (or isolation) in the informal organization described above. Sociometric measures revealed a spread from nearly complete isolation of some staff to nearly complete integration of others. Factors not related to work in the psychiatric division appeared to be significant in affecting inter—group structure. These were status in the formal hierarchy and, in accord with the hospital's religious and moral precepts, a passive acceptance of direction. Similarly, the negative aspects of informal organization and communication were well known, while the positive aspects relating to its use and function appeared outside the awareness of certain key persons in the test group.