Comparison of Intensive Case Management for Psychotic and Nonpsychotic Patients

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While the original goal of intensive community-based service programs such as assertive community treatment (ACT) was reduction of hospital use, this goal has diminished in importance because of the extensive reduction in inpatient bed availability and use. This study sought to identify target populations that benefit most from such programs, hypothesizing that those with psychotic symptoms would show more benefits than others because of improved medication compliance. Administrative outcome data from the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Intensive Case Management program from 2008–2011 were compared among 3 groups: (a) veterans clinically diagnosed with a psychotic disorder who also exhibited at least moderately severe psychotic symptoms (N = 2,502); (b) veterans with a psychotic disorder who did not exhibit such symptoms (N = 2,338); and (c) veterans with no psychotic diagnoses (N = 820). Baseline characteristics were compared to identify potentially confounding differences between the groups. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare changes in symptoms, substance use, and community functioning 6 months after entry. Two significant differences were observed between the 3 groups after controlling for baseline measures, but not in the hypothesized direction, thus failing to confirm our hypothesis. Although we did not find evidence that patients with psychotic symptoms benefit any more from intensive community-based care than other participants, this study highlights a need to clarify the role of intensive case management (ICM) services in a context in which minimizing inpatient care plays is a less central objective, and tends to encourage offering ACT to selected patients with nonpsychotic disorders.

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