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Distance-decay theory, or Jarvis’s Law, proposes the use of asylums is related to how near a patient is to the institution—those living further away being less inclined to avail themselves of such services (Jarvis, 1850). Hunter, Shannon, and Sambrook (1986) using modern inferential statistics reaffirmed Jarvis’s Law in 19th century U.S. and Canadian asylums. The researchers also proposed institutions emanated a “zone of indifference” of approximately 50-miles, beyond which Jarvis’s Law became a weaker force. Previous studies failed to include many southern asylums, including Georgia’s, Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic asylum. Georgia’s facility offers a number of geospatial factors for consideration: the asylum was centrally located, it represented the sole state psychiatric facility, and the institution existed within the context of rapidly expanding counties. The present study—which appears in poster form, examines geospatial aspects of Jarvis law upon county admission rates to the Georgia facility using 50-mile districts during both the antebellum period (1842-1860) and post-bellum period (1866-1880) with GIS mapping using ArcPro software. Pearson product moment correlation showed significant inverse correlations between per capita admissions and distance for 1842-1850 (r = -0.259, n = 99, p = .01), 1866-1870 (r = -0.335, n = 132, p = .01), and 1871-1880 (r = -0.179, n = 133, p = .03); there was no significant relationship revealed for 1851-1860 (r = -0.093, n = 131, p = .290).


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Event location
    • Cleveland Ballroom

  • Event date
    • 2 November 2019

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022