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Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1990 Jun;41(6):642-7; discussion 649-51.

New directions in research on assertive community treatment.

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  • 1Department of Mental Hygiene, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.


Evaluation of assertive community treatment programs has demonstrated that they are highly effective in reducing the need for psychiatric hospitalization of chronic mentally ill patients. However, the programs also tend to cost more than traditional outpatient care, and their impact on other areas of patient functioning is not clear. The authors believe more rigorous studies of the programs are needed before policymakers can properly evaluate their role in the overall mix of services. Future studies should extend previous research by comparing the programs to current state-of-the-art treatment in community mental health centers or county mental health programs; assessing the total system costs of assertive community treatment programs, as well as the amount of cost shifting by payers; analyzing outcomes of clients in mature programs over longer time periods; standardizing the measurement of various client outcomes; and determining the impact of individual program elements--alone and in combination--on different subgroups of clients.

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