JF Ptak Science Books
JARVIS, Edward, M.D. "Influence of Distance from and Nearness to an Insane Hospital on its Use by the People." Separate printing from the American Journal of Insanity, XXII, January 1866, pp 361-406. This publication paginated 1-46. Original printed wrappers. Very nice copy. $450
Dr. Edward Jarvis (1803-1884) conducted a study in 1866 to determine how much a factor distance from an "insane hospital" was in regards to people using the facility. It sounds like an obvious-enough question with a probably-obvious answer, but these things are really never so until someone actually looks at the data and extracts an answer. And so Dr. Jarvis performed this function, answering the question once and for all that yes, indeed, the further away you are from a facility the less likely you are going to be to use it, and thus we have Jarvis' Law.
"Mental health researchers have long considered the importance of distance on psychiatric service use. Systemic analyses regarding the relationship between distance and the use of mental health care can be traced back to the mid nineteenth century, when Edward Jarvis identified inverse associations between home-to-hospital distance and the rates of admission to Oneida County Hospital of New York and the Kentucky Lunatic Asylum in Fayette County. He claimed that people living near psychiatric hospitals send more patients there for admission than do those living far away (Jarvis’s law)...The study also revealed urban–rural differences in the prevalence of insanity, and high admission rates to psychiatric hospitals among people residing near the city center. Jarvis’s law has been identified in numerous studies since the mid-twentieth century."--Kuon-Chiao Tseng, et al, "Travel Distance and the Use of Inpatient Care among Patients with Schizophrenia", Adm Policy Ment Health. 2008 Sep; 35(5): 346–356, published online 2008 May 30. doi: 10.1007/s10488-008-0175-x
For example, in my own state of North Carolina, Dr. Jarvis breaks down the rather long and narrow state into five sections, and then lists the number of people per section making use of the state facility in Raleigh.
The findings by section and distance as follows:
- I, Wake county, including Raleigh; 1 in 4,875 residents used the state hospital
- II, 50 miles distant; 1 in 6,433
- III, 50-100 miles "from the asylum"; 1 in 9,707.
- IV, 100-150 miles from Raleigh; 1 in 10,982
- V, 150-250 (+) miles; 1 in 45,790.
This is pretty much consistent with the few other states that I checked.
Jarvis conducted another study that also conclusively stated that the closer people are to an asylum that the more they are subjected to the idea of being able to help/cure the people attending the institution.
Jarvis had a few pages of analysis at the end, establishing a "law of nearness" on the use of facilities. He established that just because the institution is equally available to all (white) people doesn't mean that it will be used equally by all. He suggested that institutions be established in different sections of the state to help make it possible for all people in a state to use the state asylum.
Again, something isn't obvious and correct until it is.
This was some early and instructive medical statistics work conducted by Jarvis, who in addition to being an M.D. served from 1852 to 1884 as president of the American Statistical Association. He completed this survey not long after having tabulated the national statistics of mortality for the Eight U.S. Census (of 1860).