Social contact in a rehabilitation hospital : Analysis of observational data



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Naturalistic observation of spinal cord patients at Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, Texas, has generated a great deal of information about the behavior of these patients. This information is contained in patient protocols, which are continuous narratives of the behavioral stream of twenty-seven patients observed for one full day in 1968 and 1971. Included in the protocols are data on patients' social contact with staff and other persons in the hospital. In the present study, the narratives were examined for instances of socializing behavior. This procedure yielded a new set of data: a topological description of social contact throughout the hospital by patients, staff, and behavior settings. The amount and initiation of social contact for patients was correlated with different settings, patient age, time spent in hospital, and length of time since spinal lesion. There are analyses of the amount and initiation of social contact with staff and other persons. This study's topographical description depicts the pattern of social contact throughout a patient's day and compares changes over the three year period when patients were observed. Correlational analysis showed some trends that: patients earlier in treatment converse more than later patients; patients increase social contact the longer they have had their spinal lesions; staff initiate social contact more to patients who have been in the hospital longer; and patients initiate more social contact to non-staff persons than to staff. This study discusses the merits of certain types of observational research for the study of socializing behavior and suggests that the observations or encoding procedures at Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research be changed to yield more specific data on this behavior.



Social interaction, Rehabilitation