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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 Jun;48(6):997-1003. doi: 10.1007/s00127-012-0602-x. Epub 2012 Oct 21.

A dismantling study of assertive outreach services: comparing activity and outcomes following replacement with the FACT model.

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South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust Service Development, Room 5, Building 14 Springfield University Hospital, 61 Glenburnie Road, London, SW17 7DJ, UK.



Financial constraints and some disappointing research evaluations have seen English assertive outreach (AO) teams subject to remodelling, decommissioning and integration into standard care. We tested a specific alternative model of integrating the AO function from two AO teams into six standard community mental health teams (CMHT). The Flexible Assertive Community Treatment model (FACT) was adopted from the Netherlands (Van Veldhuizen, Commun Mental Health J 43(4):421-433, 2007; Bond and Drake, Commun Mental Health J 43(4):435-438, 2007). We aimed to demonstrate non-inferiority in clinical effectiveness and thereby show cost efficiencies associated with FACT.


Outcomes were compared in a mirror-image study of the 12 months periods pre- and post-service change with eligible individuals from the AO teams' caseloads (n = 112) acting as their own controls. We also conducted a cost-consequence analysis of the changes. Outcome data regarding admissions, use of crisis and home treatment, frequency of contact and DNA rate were extracted from the electronic patient record.


The results show AO patients (n = 112) transferred to standard CMHTs with FACT had significantly fewer admissions and a halving of bed use (21 fewer admission and 2,394 fewer occupied bed days) whilst being in receipt of a less intensive service (2,979 fewer contacts). This was offset by significantly poorer engagement but not by increased use of crisis and home treatment services.


Enhancing multi-disciplinary CMHTs with FACT provides a clinically effective alternative to AO teams. FACT offers a cost-effective model compared to AO.

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