Background 'Open Dialogue' is a social network model of crisis and continuing mental healthcare which involves elements of service delivery such as immediate response and a style of therapeutic meeting called network meetings. Although there are indications from non-randomised studies that it may help people in their recovery from severe mental health crises and improve long-term outcomes, this has yet to be tested in a randomised controlled trial. Methods This paper outlines the protocol for a multi-site cluster-randomised control trial assessing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of Open Dialogue compared to treatment as usual (TAU) for individuals presenting in crisis to six mental health services in England. The primary outcome is time to relapse, with secondary outcomes including measures of recovery and service use. Participants will be followed-up for two years, with data collected from electronic medical records and researcher-led interviews. The analysis will compare outcomes between treatment groups as well as investigating potential mediators of effect: shared decision-making and social network quality and size. Carers of a subsample of participants will be asked about their experiences of shared decision-making, carer burden, and satisfaction. Discussion This trial will provide evidence of whether Open Dialogue services implemented in the English mental health system is an effective alternative to current care and may have important implications for the organization of community mental health services. Trial registration: retrospectively registered (108 participants recruited of 570 target) on 20/12/2019, ISRCTN52653325.
Keywords: Community mental health care; Crisis care; Open dialogue; Relapse; Severe mental disorders; Social network.
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