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The effectiveness of mental health courts in reducing recidivism and police contact: a systematic review protocol



Mental health courts were created to help criminal defendants who have a mental illness that significantly contributes to their criminal offense. Despite the increasing number of mental health courts around the world, data about their effectiveness have only begun to emerge in the past decade. The purpose of this systematic literature review is to assess the current evidence on the effectiveness of mental health courts. Specifically, this review will address the question, "How effective are mental health courts in reducing recidivism and police contact?"


Eight electronic databases will be searched, specifically PsycINFO, Medline, Medline In-Process, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, Social Work Abstracts, and Criminal Justice Abstracts. A multi-phase screening process will be used to identify relevant search hits. Articles that pass the three-stage screening process will then be assessed for risk of bias and have their reference lists hand searched. Full-text articles that are rated to have low to moderate risk of bias will be summarized into two tables, one containing a brief description of the study and the other reporting the results of relevant outcomes measured.


By synthesizing the results of the studies, this systematic review will help illuminate gaps in the literature, direct future research, and inform policy makers.

Systematic review registration

PROSPERO CRD42016036084.

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