Does Assertive Community Treatment Reduce the Use of Compulsory Admissions?

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Abstract

Background:

The growing number of compulsory admissions in Denmark and other countries is a compelling challenge. We hypothesized that Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) may have the quality to reduce the use of several type of coercion including compulsory admissions. Although ACT is not designed for coercion prevention, it may prove efficient in averting major crisis among the included patients. Studies in Denmark showed that ACT has a major and significant advantage in reducing number and length of admissions.

Methods/design:

We collected service data from National Case Register at three psychiatric hospitals, which constitutes the inpatient and outpatient mental health services in the North Denmark Region. Data included psychiatric and somatic service use among 240 patients starting in ACT. Primary measure concerned the extent to which ACT might reduce compulsory admissions.

Results:

During a five years period patients allocated to ACT show decreasing admission trends. In comparison with all other psychiatric service users, we found a significant difference in trends concerning voluntary admissions and involuntary admissions according to the dangerous criterion, and decrease in number of contacts to Psychiatric Emergency Room (PER)

Conclusion:

An assertive approach undoubtedly reduces hospitalization including some involuntary admissions. ACT is preferable from both team and patient perspectives, and further caused reduction of PER visits compared to standard treatment.

Perspectives:

The criterion of Severe Mental Illness (SMI) may be revised to facilitate ACT to be offered to a larger group of SMI patients. In addition, introduction of Crisis Intervention Teams should be considered and allocated to PER.

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