de·​in·​sti·​tu·​tion·​al·​i·​za·​tion (ˌ)dē-ˌin(t)-stə-ˌtü-shə-nə-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce deinstitutionalization (audio)
: the release of institutionalized individuals from institutional care (as in a psychiatric hospital) to care in the community
: the reform or modification of an institution to remove or disguise its institutional character
deinstitutionalize transitive verb

Examples of deinstitutionalization in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The policy has come to be known as deinstitutionalization. Greg Rosalsky, NPR, 16 Apr. 2024 The organization was established in 1983 by Florence and Elias Katz, an artist and a psychologist, who at the time were inspired by the nationwide deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities. Laura Newberry, Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2023 These programs began gaining support in the 1980s, offered as a solution during the deinstitutionalization movement of the time which wanted to prevent the abuse of patients locked away in psychiatric wards. Rong Xiaoqing, Curbed, 21 Aug. 2023 As the deinstitutionalization movement took off, many children who would have been diagnosed with mental retardation were instead diagnosed with autism, not because the diagnosis was more accurate but because its treatment was preferable. Rachel Burr Gerrard, STAT, 13 Feb. 2022 The several distinct waves of deinstitutionalization, beginning around the 1950s, were in part a response to the widespread institutional abuses exposed by journalists and advocates. Abby Cartus, The New Republic, 23 Feb. 2023 Yet deinstitutionalization did not always return psychiatric patients to community living, and rarely accomplished their seamless integration into community life. Abby Cartus, The New Republic, 23 Feb. 2023 Across America, police officers became de facto social workers after deinstitutionalization policies closed many psychiatric hospitals, leaving some patients with nowhere to go — and the right to refuse treatment. Corey Kilgannon, New York Times, 5 Dec. 2022 Many forces lay behind this: deinstitutionalization, gentrification, cuts in welfare programs, the AIDS epidemic. Tracy Kidder, New York Times, 5 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deinstitutionalization.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1955, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of deinstitutionalization was in 1955

Dictionary Entries Near deinstitutionalization

Cite this Entry

“Deinstitutionalization.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


de·​in·​sti·​tu·​tion·​al·​iza·​tion (ˌ)dē-ˌin(t)-stə-ˌt(y)üsh-nə-lə-ˈzā-shən, -ˌt(y)ü-shən-ᵊl-ə-ˈzā- How to pronounce deinstitutionalization (audio)
: the release of institutionalized individuals from institutional care (as in a psychiatric hospital) to care in the community
deinstitutionalize transitive verb
deinstitutionalized; deinstitutionalizing

More from Merriam-Webster on deinstitutionalization

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