What Clinicians Say About the Experience of Working With Individuals on Community Treatment Orders [2018]

Community treatment orders (CTOs) refer to a variety of legal schemes that require a person with a serious mental illness to follow a plan of treatment and supervision while living in the community. Use of CTOs has been controversial, and they have been the subject of a considerable amount of quantitative and qualitative research. This article reports the results of a systematic review of qualitative studies focused on understanding the views and experiences of clinicians who work with individuals on CTOs.

Relevant databases and gray literature were searched for articles that used a qualitative methodology for data collection and analysis to examine clinicians’ perspectives. CTOs were defined as various legal schemes, including court-ordered outpatient commitment and renewable conditional-leave provisions initiated while a person is an inpatient in a psychiatric unit. Mandatory treatment and supervision required after a person has been charged with or convicted of committing a criminal offense was not considered.

Fourteen articles met inclusion criteria. They represented the views of more than 700 clinicians from six international jurisdictions. Three themes were identified: endorsement of the benefits of CTOs despite tensions both within and between clinicians concerning several aspects of CTOs; belief that medication compliance is a central aspect of CTOs; and acknowledgment that there is room for improvement in CTO implementation, monitoring, and administration. Strategies for reducing tensions and improving administration of CTOs are discussed.

Clinicians view CTOs as providing benefits to their clients but struggle with the coercive nature of these tools.

Deborah Corring, M.Sc., Ph.D., Richard L. O’Reilly, M.B., F.R.C.P.C., Christina Sommerdyk, M.Sc., Elizabeth Russell, B.A., M.L.I.S.
Psychiatric Services, 26 Apr 2018