A randomized controlled trial comparing self-referral to inpatient treatment and treatment as usual in patients with severe mental disorders
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNordic Journal of Psychiatry 2016 10.1080/08039488.2016.1240231
Background: There has been a call for increased patient autonomy and participation in psychiatry. Some Community Mental Health Centres (CMHC) have implemented services called ‘self-referral to inpatient treatment’ (SRIT) for patients with severe mental disorders. Aims: To investigate whether SRIT could yield better outcomes after 12 months in use of mental health services for people with severe mental disorders than Treatment As Usual (TAU). Methods: This was a randomized controlled trial at a CMHC in Norway comparing SRIT and TAU in 12 months. Fifty-four patients with severe mental disorders were included. The patients in the SRIT group could admit themselves as inpatients for up to 5 days for each admission with at least a 2 weeks pause between the admittances. Results: Twenty out of 26 participants (77%) in the SRIT group used the SRIT for a median of 1.5 admissions and 5 inpatient days. With the exception of a somewhat larger number of admissions at the CMHC in the SRIT group, no significant differences were found between the two groups in days as inpatients, admissions, outpatient contacts or coercion. Both groups reduced their inpatients days by 40%. Conclusions: Both the SRIT and the TAU groups reduced their use of services during the 12 months intervention period. Giving patients with severe mental disorders the possibility to self-refer did not change the use of services. Clinical implications: Self-referral to inpatient treatment for patients with severe mental disorders might increase patient autonomy, but does not seem to save use of inpatient services.