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Twenty-eight patients who were admitted consecutively to a single-adult unit of the Cassel Hospital in 1977/8 were followed up 5 years after discharge. Those who were found to have improved at the end of treatment remained well 5 years later. These could be distinguished by their combination of neurotic psychopathology, considerable depression, superior intelligence, and lack of a chronic outpatient history. Patients who had improved 5 years after discharge did not show these characteristics, but had all spent at least 9 weeks on the waiting list and had the capacity to form close and helpful relationships. Patients who were judged to have improved were less dependent on the Health Service and their economic productivity was improved, often as a consequence of returning to education or training. Those who did not improve clinically continued to be admitted to hospital and tended to become less economically productive.