Involuntary outpatient commitment, community treatment orders, and assisted outpatient treatment: whats in the data?
OBJECTIVE: Involuntary outpatient commitment (OPC), also referred to as community treatment orders or assisted outpatient treatment, is a legal intervention intended to improve treatment adherence among persons with serious mental illness. This paper reviews the empirical literature on the procedure’s effectiveness. METHODS: We identified and reviewed all English-language studies of OPC and related procedures available in Medline and other bibliographic search services. RESULTS: Existing naturalistic and quasi-experimental studies, taken as a whole, moderately support the view that the procedure is effective, although all do have methodological limitations. Two randomized controlled studies of OPC have conflicting findings and are reviewed in detail. CONCLUSIONS: On balance, empirical studies support the view that OPC is effective under certain conditions, although some of the evidence has been contested and the policy remains controversial.