Changes in clinical and social situation after involuntary admission of homeless people with psychotic disorders: a one-year follow-up study

Nord J Psychiatry. 2021 Aug;75(6):447-453. doi: 10.1080/08039488.2021.1881820. Epub 2021 Feb 22.


Background: Mental illness is one of the main reasons for homelessness in Denmark. Yet, some patients do not accept psychiatric treatment despite need for treatment. This can lead to involuntary admission. In this study, we examined changes after involuntary admissions of mentally ill homeless people.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal, naturalistic follow-up study of patients who had been involuntarily admitted by the Homeless Outreach Psychiatric Service through 1 year. We examined changes in mental condition, social situation, and substance use of mentally ill homeless people one year after involuntary admission.

Results: At baseline, 28 patients were included: 86% of them had been admitted before, 46% had a substance use, and 25% had prior been convicted of a violent crime. 89% of the patients were discharged to the streets. At 12 months, 50% of the patients had symptom reduction, 36% were in psychiatric treatment, and only 14% had acquired permanent housing. No improvements in substance use were observed and 11% of the patients had new convictions after 12 months. During the study period, a total of 24 readmissions distributed on 14 patients was found.

Conclusion: Involuntary admissions can be an effective treatment of psychiatric aspects of mentally ill homeless patients. Unfortunately, a substantial part of these patients was quickly discharged before sufficient treatment, leaving room for improvement. Furthermore, few improvements were seen concerning the patients' social situation. More focus on the coherence between psychiatric and municipality services, targeting the social issues and substance use of homeless patients, is strongly needed.

Keywords: Psychosis; social; substance use; symptoms; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Homeless Persons*
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mentally Ill Persons*
  • Psychotic Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders* / therapy