Friday, December 01, 2006

Australian researchers on AOT's value

A new study of AOT in Victoria, Australia looked at almost 1,200 individuals over nine years. The results, recently published in the journal Social Work in Health Care, echo other published studies of AOT.

Individuals in the Australian study receiving extended outpatient commitment experienced significant decreases in hospitalization (from an average 56.3 days per year before extended AOT to only 19.6 days per year after) and a third more service utilization than in the period before AOT.

Researchers also found that neither AOT nor community services alone accounted for the reduction in inpatient bed use – in fact, either service alone was actually associated with increased inpatient utilization. Their analysis demonstrated that “it is the combination of community services enabled by outpatient commitment that facilitates the reduction in hospital utilization…” This further shatters the myth that enhanced services alone are enough for this population.

The researchers explain that “outpatient commitment is perhaps best conceived as a delivery mechanism rather than a treatment in and of itself” that serves as a “way of delivering services to a population that cannot or will not accept such services voluntarily.” AOT’s role is “to raise the level of outpatient commitment to that provided to the treatment compliant comparison sample.”

In other words, the goal of AOT is to allow individuals whose illnesses cause them to refuse care the opportunity to access the same services as other individuals with mental illnesses. AOT is simply a means of ensuring that everyone has the same opportunity to recover from their illness.

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