Background: Crisis Resolution Teams (CRTs) aim to offer an alternative to hospital admission during mental health crises, providing rapid assessment, home treatment, and facilitation of early discharge from hospital. CRTs were implemented nationally in England following the NHS Plan of 2000. Single centre studies suggest CRTs can reduce hospital admissions and increase service users' satisfaction: however, there is also evidence that model implementation and outcomes vary considerably. Evidence on crucial characteristics of effective CRTs is needed to allow team functioning to be optimised. This review aims to establish what evidence, if any, is available regarding the characteristics of effective and acceptable CRTs.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted. MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Web of Science were searched to November 2013. A further web-based search was conducted for government and expert guidelines on CRTs. We analysed studies separately as: comparing CRTs to Treatment as Usual; comparing two or more CRT models; national or regional surveys of CRT services; qualitative studies of stakeholders' views regarding best practice in CRTs; and guidelines from government and expert organisations regarding CRT service delivery. Quality assessment and narrative synthesis were conducted. Statistical meta-analysis was not feasible due to the variety of design of retrieved studies.
Results: Sixty-nine studies were included. Studies varied in quality and in the composition and activities of the clinical services studied. Quantitative studies suggested that longer opening hours and the presence of a psychiatrist in the team may increase CRTs' ability to prevent hospital admissions. Stakeholders emphasised communication and integration with other local mental health services; provision of treatment at home; and limiting the number of different staff members visiting a service user. Existing guidelines prioritised 24-hour, seven-day-a-week CRT service provision (including psychiatrist and medical prescriber); and high quality of staff training.
Conclusions: We cannot draw confident conclusions about the critical components of CRTs from available quantitative evidence. Clearer definition of the CRT model is required, informed by stakeholders' views and guidelines. Future studies examining the relationship of overall CRT model fidelity to outcomes, or evaluating the impact of key aspects of the CRT model, are desirable.
Trial registration: Prospero CRD42013006415 .