Randomized trial of critical time intervention to prevent homelessness after hospital discharge

Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Jul;62(7):713-9. doi: 10.1176/ps.62.7.pss6207_0713.


Objective: This study assessed the effectiveness of a previously tested model, critical time intervention (CTI), in producing an enduring reduction in the risk of homelessness for persons with severe mental illness who were discharged from inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities.

Methods: A total of 150 previously homeless men and women with severe mental illness and who were discharged from inpatient psychiatric hospitalization to transitional residences on the hospital grounds were randomly assigned to receive usual care or usual care plus CTI at the point of discharge to the community. The nine-month intervention aims to gradually pass responsibility to community sources for providing ongoing support after the intervention ends, thereby leading to a durable reduction in risk of future homelessness. After participants were discharged from the transitional residence (length of stay six to 937 days), their housing status was assessed every six weeks for 18 months via participant self-report collected by interviewers blind to study condition.

Results: In an intent-to-treat analysis, participants assigned to the CTI group had significantly less homelessness at the end of the follow-up period (the final three six-week intervals) than those assigned to the control group (odds ratio=.22, 95% confidence interval=.06-.88).

Conclusions: A relatively brief, focused intervention for persons with severe mental illness led to a reduction in the risk of homelessness that was evident nine months after the intervention ended. This work suggests that targeted, relatively short interventions applied at critical transition points may enhance the efficacy of long-term supports for persons with severe mental illness who are living in the community.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case Management
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Homeless Persons / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors