Predictors of treatment discontinuity in outpatient mental health care

Berghofer, G.; Schmidl, F.; Rudas, S.; Steiner, E.; Schmitz, M.
June 2002
Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology;Jun2002, Vol. 37 Issue 6, p276
Academic Journal
Background Discontinuity of service utilisation among newly referred community outpatients is a common concern. However, knowledge about factors associated with service utilisation is inconsistent. Method This study examined service utilisation of 323 newly referred patients in three community mental health centres (CMHCs) in Vienna, Austria over a 4-month period. Of this original cohort, 111 patients were interviewed at treatment start to identify factors associated with treatment discontinuity. Results After 4 months, one-third of the 323 newly referred patients had dropped out of CMHC treatment; one-third discontinued treatment at the CMHCs because of referrals or mutual agreement on treatment termination, and one-third was still in CMHC treatment. Multivariate analyses yielded a negative association between treatment discontinuity and the diagnosis of schizophrenia, availability of home care, living alone, and a high quality of life in the domains living situation and family/significant others. A positive association was found with unemployment, previous psychiatric admissions, low patient satisfaction with staff competence, and high self-assessment in global functioning. Conclusion In treatment, differing perceptions of a patient's health status by the patient and by the psychiatrist should be addressed. Professionals should be aware that patients' difficulties in private social relations might affect both treatment alliance and service utilisation.


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