Rates, determinants and outcomes associated with the use of community treatment orders in young people experiencing first episode psychosis

Int J Law Psychiatry. 2019 Jan-Feb;62:85-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2018.11.007. Epub 2018 Dec 10.


Background: Community treatment orders (CTOs) are a controversial form of involuntary treatment for individuals affected by mental health disorders and yet little is known about the use of CTOs in first presentations. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the rates, determinants and outcomes associated with the use of CTOs in young people with a first episode of psychosis (FEP).

Methods: This epidemiological cohort study included all individuals aged 15-24 who presented with a FEP to the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) in Melbourne between 01.01.2011 and 31.12.13.

Results: A total of 544 young people presented with a FEP during the study period and of these, 93 (17.3%) were subject to a CTO during their episode of care. A total of 69.7% of CTOs were commenced after the first three months of treatment and the median duration of CTOs was 168.5 days. Males, a diagnosis of a schizophrenia spectrum disorder and a concurrent substance abuse disorder were associated with the use of CTOs. Additionally, young people with more severe positive psychotic symptoms were more likely to be subject to a CTO. At the time of discharge, only 38.7% of those subject to a CTO were in education or employment compared to 65.4% of those who had not been subject to a CTO.

Conclusions: The majority of CTOs are commenced after at least three months of treatment, however the optimal timing of CTO implementation needs to be determined. The poor functioning of young people on a CTO should be the focus of future interventional studies.

Keywords: Community treatment order; First episode psychosis; Involuntary outpatient treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Community Mental Health Services / methods
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Involuntary Treatment, Psychiatric / methods
  • Involuntary Treatment, Psychiatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Victoria / epidemiology
  • Young Adult