The effects of institutionalization on elderly people are of significance both socially and physically Currently, about 5% of elderly people in the United States live in long-term care institutions, although approximately 33% of all elders will be institutionalized for at least a short period of time The effects on socialization of living in a nursing home have been studied and commented on from several perspectives Several studies directed attention to the elderly person living in an institution Others investigated the institution's response to residents’ needs Some studies have focused on attitudes of health care workers towards elderly people, and still others have examined the interaction between workers and residents This review of the literature will first present studies focused on nursing home residents, then the institutions themselves, followed by studies of nursing home staff, and finally those focusing on the interaction between staff and residents Discussion of possible directions for both practice and research will follow The studies reported here were conducted in the United States, England, Northern Ireland and Finland