The treatment of homeless dual-diagnosis patients (i.e., those with severe mental illness and substance-use disorder) is difficult and often fails. For patients in the Netherlands who had not responded to earlier voluntary and compulsory treatment, a new treatment facility – Sustainable Residence (SuRe) – was developed to offer long-term compulsory in-patient treatment.
Aim of the study
To study patterns of changes in clinical and functional outcomes during treatment at SuRe and how these relate to eventual treatment outcome.
On the basis of the intensity of care needed after four years, three groups of patients were distinguished (total n = 165): those discharged to a less restrictive and less supportive setting (n = 70, 42%), those still hospitalized at SuRe at the end of the four-year study period (n = 69, 42%) and those referred to a more appropriate setting (n = 26, 16%). Random coefficient analysis was used to examine differences between groups regarding changes in clinical and functional outcomes during treatment. During treatment, outcomes were monitored using Routine Outcome Assessment.
All three groups made small but significant improvements on global psychosocial functioning, distress and therapeutic alliance (effect sizes (ES) 0.11 to 0.16 per year). Patients who were discharged to a less restrictive setting showed small to moderate improvement in risk to self and others, psychiatric symptoms, and skills for daily living (ES 0.19–0.33 per year and 0.42–0.73 for their mean 2.2-year treatment period). Patients remaining at SuRe showed a small increase in risk to self (ES 0.20 per year; 0.80 for their treatment period of four years or more). Oppositional behaviour was consistently greater in referred patients than in the other groups (ES 0.74–0.75).
Long-term compulsory treatment appeared to have helped improve clinical and functional outcomes in a substantial proportion (42%) of previously severely dysfunctional, treatment-resistant dual-diagnosis patients, who could then be discharged to a less restrictive and less supportive environment. However, risk-to-self increased in a similar proportion. A smaller number of patients (16%) showed marked oppositional behaviour and needed a higher level of care and protection in another facility.