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The utility of extended outpatient civil commitment



This study considers three hypotheses regarding the impact of extended involuntary outpatient commitment orders on services utilization.


Service utilization of Victorian Psychiatric Case Register (VPCR) patients with extended (> or =180 day) outpatient commitment orders was compared to that of a diagnostically-matched treatment compliant group with similarly extended (> or =180 day) periods of outpatient care (N=1182)--the former receiving care during their extended episode on an involuntary basis while the latter participated in care voluntarily. Pre/post first extended episode mental health service utilization was compared via paired t tests with individuals as their own controls. Logistic and OLS regression as well as repeated measures ANOVA via the GLM SPSS program and post hoc t tests were used to evaluate between group and across time differences.


Extended episodes of care for both groups were associated with subsequent reduced use of hospitalization and increases in community treatment days. Extended orders did not promote voluntary participation in the period following their termination. Community treatment days during the extended episode for those on orders were raised to the level experienced by the treatment compliant comparison group during their extended episode and maintained at that level via subsequent renewal of orders throughout the patients' careers. Approximately six community treatment days were required for those on orders to achieve a one-day reduction in hospital utilization following the extended episode.


Outpatient commitment for those on extended orders in the Victorian context enabled a level of community-based treatment provision unexpected in the absence of this delivery system and provided an alternative to hospitalization.

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