Community treatment orders (CTOs) were introduced in Scotland in 2005, but are controversial owing to a lack of supportive randomised evidence. The non-randomised studies provide mixed results on their efficacy and utility. We aimed to examine hospital bed day usage across Scotland both before and after CTOs were initiated in a national cohort of patients, spanning 5 years.
In total, 1558 individuals who were subject to a CTO between 2007 and 2012, of whom 63% were male, were included. After CTO initiation the number of hospital bed days fell, on average, from 66 to 39 per annum per patient. Those with a longer psychiatric history appeared to benefit more from a CTO, in terms of reduced time in hospital.
Our data offer cautious support for the use of CTOs in routine practice, in terms of reducing time spent in psychiatric hospital. This finding is balanced by the more rigorous randomised studies which do not find any benefit to CTOs.
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