Objectives Limited evidence is available regarding the effect of community treatment orders (CTOs) on mortality and readmission to psychiatric hospital. We compared clinical outcomes between patients placed on CTOs to a control group of patients discharged to voluntary community mental healthcare.
Design and setting An observational study using deidentified electronic health record data from inpatients receiving mental healthcare in South London using the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) system. Data from patients discharged between November 2008 and May 2014 from compulsory inpatient treatment under the Mental Health Act were analysed.
Participants 830 participants discharged on a CTO (mean age 40 years; 63% male) and 3659 control participants discharged without a CTO (mean age 42 years; 53% male).
Outcome measures The number of days spent in the community until readmission, the number of days spent in inpatient care in the 2 years prior to and the 2 years following the index admission and mortality.
Results The mean duration of a CTO was 3.2 years. Patients receiving care from forensic psychiatry services were five times more likely and patients receiving a long-acting injectable antipsychotic were twice as likely to be placed on a CTO. There was a significant association between CTO receipt and readmission in adjusted models (HR: 1.60, 95% CI 1.42 to 1.80, p<0.001). Compared with controls, patients on a CTO spent 17.3 additional days (95% CI 4.0 to 30.6, p=0.011) in a psychiatric hospital in the 2 years following index admission and had a lower mortality rate (HR: 0.66, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.88, p=0.004).
Conclusions Many patients spent longer on CTOs than initially anticipated by policymakers. Those on CTOs are readmitted sooner, spend more time in hospital and have a lower mortality rate. These findings merit consideration in future amendments to the UK Mental Health Act.