In the Oxford Community Treatment Order Evaluation Trial (OCTET), patients were randomised either to be made subject to a community treatment order (CTO) or to be managed with Section 17 leave and discharge. No differences in outcome between the two groups were observed. Here it is argued that the patients studied were not those who might have benefited from a CTO and that the psychiatrists involved were unlikely to have used the provisions of a CTO assertively. Consideration of the lengths of time for which both Section 17 leave and CTOs were used supports the notion that CTOs were not used appropriately for a group of patients who might have benefited from them. Hence the results of this study should not be taken to provide any evidence as to the effectiveness or otherwise of CTOs.
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