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To evaluate the suitability of 80 patients referred for assertive outreach treatment (AOT) and their treatment outcomes, by comparing clinical and social data during the treatment period with data before treatment began. To control for service development across the board, patients on ordinary community treatment were identified and matched to patients undergoing AOT for age, gender, clinical diagnosis and duration, and data acquired for the same time period as the patients on AOT. This was a retrospective mirror-image evaluation with contemporaneous controls.
The patients referred for AOT were more socially disadvantaged and had used more clinical resources than the control patients. Overall, AOT reduced resource uptake markedly following referral, while resource uptake by control patients during the same period remained static or increased; AOT, however, did not lessen most aspects of social disadvantage.
The advantages of AOT include much reduced use of services but not the resolving of social exclusion. Some ordinary community provision may fail to afford the quality of AOT and thus suffer by comparison. The demise of AOT may be premature in such services.
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