Effects of a New Commitment Law on Involuntary Admissions and Service Utilization Patterns

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Abstract

Recently Nebraska changed its commitment law to include many procedural safeguards and require behaviorally manifested dangerousness as a criterion of commitment. An interrupted time-series design was used to determine what effects the new law had on admission characteristics and service utilization patterns of all those committed to Nebraska's three state hospitals. An immediate drop in involuntary admissions was found, but this decline was temporary. Several changes in the demographic characteristics of those committed were also found. Finally, the law apparently caused an increase in the number of those having to be readmitted. These results raise questions about the implementation of the law, the perception of dangerousness, and the need for more effective liaison between state hospitals and community-based treatment facilities.

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