Background: Compulsory mental health hospital admissions are increasing in several European countries but are coercive and potentially distressing. It is important to identify which mental health service models and interventions are effective in reducing compulsory admissions.
Methods: We conducted a rapid evidence synthesis to explore whether there is any evidence for an effect on compulsory admissions for 15 types of psychosocial intervention, identified by an expert group as potentially relevant to reducing compulsory admission. A search for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) reporting compulsory admission as a primary or secondary outcome or adverse event was carried out using clinical guidelines, recent systematic reviews, and database searches postdating these reviews.
Findings: We found 949 RCTs reporting on the interventions of interest, of which 19 reported on compulsory admission. Our narrative synthesis found some evidence for the effectiveness of crisis planning and self-management, while evidence for early intervention services was mixed. We did not find evidence to support adherence therapy, care from crisis resolution teams and assertive community treatment, but numbers of relevant studies were very small. We found no trials which tested effects on compulsory admission of the nine other intervention types.
Interpretation: Crisis planning and self-management interventions with a relapse prevention element are most promising for preventing compulsory admissions. Given our broad search strategy, the lack of evidence demonstrates that there is an urgent need for more research on interventions which may reduce compulsory admissions.
Funding: Independent research commissioned and funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme.
Keywords: Compulsory admissions; Involuntary hospitalisations; Mental health act.