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