This paper discusses the multiple roles sociologists play in conducting evaluation research in a large state psychiatric hospital. The key to understanding this form of clinical sociology is its blending of management and inquiry in a unique organizational context. The authors, sociologists who have both served as directors of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center's program evaluation unit since its founding in 1979, present examples of the unit's work, discussing the role sociologists play in the collection, analysis and reporting of data used by hospital administrators for strategic planning, continuous quality improvement programs, and the monitoring of patterns and trends for census management, workload and staffing projections. The conduct of program evaluation and applied research in mental health care has been influenced by public policy, budgetary constraints, changes in national standards used in accrediting psychiatric hospitals, and the introduction of personal computers into the workplace. Several suggestions for improving the training of sociologists interested in this form of clinical practice are offered.

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