Deinstitutionalization of long-stay patients with schizophrenia: the 2-year social and clinical outcome of a comprehensive intervention program in Japan

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Abstract

Objectives

The Sasagawa Project aimed to investigate the effects of deinstitutionalization and evidence-based strategies for the treatment of mental disorders among long-stay patients after their discharge from a mental hospital using a quasi-experimental longitudinal study design and to assess the patients' social and clinical outcomes over a 2-year post-discharge period.

Method

Seventy-eight patients with schizophrenia were transferred to a community facility (Sasagawa Village) following the closure of Sasagawa Hospital in Koriyama in March 2002. The patients had undergone psychosocial training following the protocol outlined by the Optimal Treatment Project. All evaluations were performed prior to the patients' discharge and were repeated 12 and 24 months after discharge using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scales, the Global Assessment for Functioning, the Schedule for Assessment of Insight, the Rehabilitation Evaluation Hall and Baker Scale, the Social Functioning Scale, the Drug Attitude Inventory, and the Mini-Mental State Examination.

Results

During the 24-month study period, 18 residents had incidents that made their continued stay at Sasagawa Village impossible. Only four (5.1%) of these residents were readmitted to psychiatric wards because of exacerbations of their conditions. Twelve residents were admitted to hospital because of serious physical illnesses. The 60 residents who remained in the community facility for 2 years demonstrated significant improvements in not only their psychiatric symptoms, but also their social functioning, as evidenced by their scores for Social Activity, Speech Skills, Disturbed Speech, Self-Care and General Behaviour on the Rehabilitation Evaluation Hall and Baker Scale and Withdrawal, Independence (Performance), Independence (Competence), and Employment on the Social Functioning Scale.

Conclusions

Careful planning that minimized social and clinical dislocation may have contributed to the successful transition from mental hospital to community facility assessed in this study. Patients with a long history of illness showed favourable outcomes with little clinical deterioration and various improvements in their psychiatric symptoms and social functioning.

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