Assessment of four stakeholder groups' preferences concerning outpatient commitment for persons with schizophrenia.
OBJECTIVE: Study findings indicating that involuntary outpatient commitment can improve treatment outcomes among persons with severe mental illness remain controversial. Opponents of outpatient commitment argue that its coerciveness is unacceptable even given its arguable benefits. However, it is unclear to what extent the public debate surrounding outpatient commitment represents the preferences of persons with a stake in the benefit or harm resulting from outpatient commitment. This study examines and compares views of outpatient commitment among four stakeholder groups: 1) persons in treatment for schizophrenia and related disorders, 2) family members of persons with these disorders, 3) clinicians treating persons with these disorders, and 4) members of the general public. METHOD: Subjects from the Piedmont region of North Carolina who were members of the four stakeholder groups were presented with short vignettes that depicted potential outcomes that were associated alternatively with outpatient commitment and with voluntary treatment. Subjects rated each vignette according to how positively or negatively they viewed the overall situation for the individual described. Multivariate regression techniques were used to estimate preference weights for each stakeholder group. RESULTS: With some exceptions, each group gave the highest preference to avoiding involuntary hospitalization, followed by avoiding interpersonal violence and maintaining good interpersonal relationships. No group gave appreciable importance to outpatient commitment, which suggests that avoiding its coerciveness is a lesser concern compared to other outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that these stakeholders are willing to accept the coerciveness of outpatient commitment to gain improved outcomes for certain persons with schizophrenia and related disorders.
Swartz, MS; Swanson, JW; Wagner, HR; Hannon, MJ; Burns, BJ; Shumway, M
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