Short time effect of a self-referral to inpatient treatment for patients with severe mental disorders: a randomized controlled trial
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBMC Health Services Research. 2016, 16 (1), 1-10. 10.1186/s12913-016-1712-z
Background Service user participation is a central principle in mental healthcare, and the opportunity to self-refer to inpatient treatment is used to increase service user involvement and activation. The aim of this study was to investigate the short-term effect of a self-referral system in an inpatient rehabilitation unit at a community mental health center on patient activation and recovery in individuals with severe mental disorders. Methods A randomized controlled study including 53 patients (41 % females, mean age 40 years). Twenty-six patients in the intervention group were given a contract for self-referral to inpatient treatment, limited to maximum 5 days and a quarantine time of 14 days between each stay. The control group (27 participants) received treatment as usual, and was offered the intervention after 1 year. The Patient Activation Measure was the primary outcome and secondary outcome was the Recovery Assessment Scale. Mixed models were used to assess group differences. Results During the 4 months period, 15 (58 %) of 26 participants in the intervention group used the contract of self-referral to inpatient treatment. The intervention group had more admissions than the control group but both groups had a similar total use of inpatient days and out-patient consultations. The self-referral to inpatient treatment counted for 11 % of all inpatient days for the intervention group. There were no significant differences in the outcome between the groups on patient activation (estimated mean difference 2.7, 95 % confidence interval = −5.5 to 10.8, p = 0.52) or recovery (estimated mean difference 0.01, 95 % confidence interval = −0.3 to 0.3, p = 0.92). Conclusions Giving persons with severe mental disorders the possibility to self-refer to inpatient treatment did not change their level of patient activation and recovery after 4 months and did not lead to increased use of health services. The cost-effectiveness and long-term effect of self-referral to inpatient treatment should be investigated further.