Objective: This study examined whether persons with mental illness who undergo a period of involuntary outpatient commitment continue to receive prescribed medications and avoid psychiatric hospitalization after outpatient commitment ends.
Methods: Data on Medicaid pharmacy fills and inpatient treatment were used to describe patterns of medication possession and hospitalization for persons with mental illness after they received assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in New York between 1999 and 2007 (N=3,576). Multivariable time-series analysis was used to compare post-AOT periods to pre-AOT periods.
Results: For former AOT recipients, sustained improvements in rates of medication possession and hospitalization in the post-AOT period varied according to the length of time spent in court-ordered treatment. When the court order for AOT was for six months or less, improved medication possession rates and reduced hospitalization were sustained in the post-AOT period only when intensive case coordination services (assertive community treatment, intensive case management, or both) were kept in place. However, when the court order was for seven months or more, improved medication possession rates and reduced hospitalization outcomes were sustained even when the former AOT recipients were no longer receiving intensive case coordination services.
Conclusions: Benefits of involuntary outpatient commitment, as indicated by improved rates of medication possession and decreased hospitalizations, were more likely to persist after involuntary outpatient commitment ends if it is kept in place longer than six months.