Balancing hospital and community treatment: effectiveness of an extended-hours community mental health team in a semi-rural region of Australia
Habibis, D, Hazelton, M, Schneider, R, Davidson, JA, Bowling, AC 2003, ’Balancing hospital and community treatment: effectiveness of an extended-hours community mental health team in a semi-rural region of Australia’, Australian Journal of Rural Health, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 181-186.
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Objective: To examine the effectiveness of the introduction of a community mental health team on consumer psychosocial outcomes. Design: Longitudinal panel design. Setting: District general hospital in a semi-rural region of Australia. Numbers: Two matched groups (n = 37 in each group) Main outcome measure: These included: Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), Global Assessment Scale (GAS), Rosenberg Self-Esteem, Life Skills Profile as well as self-report. Results: The study found that the introduction of the new service resulted in few significant differences in consumer outcomes. Conclusions: The paper argues that because the state was the only specialist mental health service provider and it was unable to offer assertive community treatment, hospital care remained central. Evidence that a substantial proportion of consumers and carers preferred hospital to community care is placed against this background. The paper argues that in regions like these, where community-based services are likely to remain underdeveloped, it may be best to maintain quality hospital services and to target community services more precisely on what is achievable rather than developing community services at the expense of hospital care.