Involuntary psychiatric treatment in the community: general practitioners and the implementation of community treatment orders

Aust Fam Physician. 2015 Jul;44(7):485-9.


Background: There are no data about general practitioners' (GPs') involvement in involuntary psychiatric community treatment orders (CTOs). We examined stakeholder perspectives on the GP's role in this area.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted around CTO experiences with 38 participants: patients, carers, clinicians and Mental Health Review Tribunal members. Data were analysed using established qualitative methodologies.

Results: Sixteen participants specifically spoke about GPs. The analysis identified four themes in their accounts: GPs as 'instruments' of CTOs; GPs as primary caregivers within a CTO; GPs as 'outsiders'; and practical challenges for GPs. Within these themes, participants identified the value of GPs in the provision of care for people living with severe and persistent mental illness, the challenges of coercive processes and the dangers of GPs being isolated from them.

Discussion: GPs play an important role in the implementation of CTOs. Failure to better integrate GPs in the care of people on CTOs appears to be a significant shortcoming of its implementation.

MeSH terms

  • Commitment of Mentally Ill*
  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • New South Wales
  • Physician's Role*