Background: Compulsory supervision outside hospital has been developed internationally for the treatment of mentally ill people following widespread deinstitutionalisation but its efficacy has not yet been proven. Community treatment orders (CTOs) for psychiatric patients became available in England and Wales in 2008. We tested whether CTOs reduce admissions compared with use of Section 17 leave when patients in both groups receive equivalent levels of clinical contact but different lengths of compulsory supervision.
Methods: OCTET is a non-blinded, parallel-arm randomised controlled trial. We postulated that patients with a diagnosis of psychosis discharged from hospital on CTOs would have a lower rate of readmission over 12 months than those discharged on the pre-existing Section 17 leave of absence. Eligible patients were those involuntarily admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of psychosis, aged 18-65 years, who were deemed suitable for supervised outpatient care by their clinicians. Consenting patients were randomly assigned (1:1 ratio) to be discharged from hospital either on CTO or Section 17 leave. Randomisation used random permuted blocks with lengths of two, four, and six, and stratified for sex, schizophrenic diagnosis, and duration of illness. Research assistants, treating clinicians, and patients were aware of assignment to randomisation group. The primary outcome measure was whether or not the patient was admitted to hospital during the 12-month follow-up period, analysed with a log-binomial regression model adjusted for stratification factors. We did all analyses by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN73110773.
Findings: Of 442 patients assessed, 336 patients were randomly assigned to be discharged from hospital either on CTO (167 patients) or Section 17 leave (169 patients). One patient withdrew directly after randomisation and two were ineligible, giving a total sample of 333 patients (166 in the CTO group and 167 in the Section 17 group). At 12 months, despite the fact that the length of initial compulsory outpatient treatment differed significantly between the two groups (median 183 days CTO group vs 8 days Section 17 group, p<0·001) the number of patients readmitted did not differ between groups (59 [36%] of 166 patients in the CTO group vs 60 [36%] of 167 patients in the Section 17 group; adjusted relative risk 1·0 [95% CI 0·75-1·33]).
Interpretation: In well coordinated mental health services the imposition of compulsory supervision does not reduce the rate of readmission of psychotic patients. We found no support in terms of any reduction in overall hospital admission to justify the significant curtailment of patients' personal liberty.
Funding: National Institute of Health Research.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.