Assertive outreach teams in London: patient characteristics and outcomes. Pan-London Assertive Outreach Study, part 3.
Priebe S., Fakhoury W., Watts J., Bebbington P., Burns T., Johnson S., Muijen M., Ryrie I., White I., Wright C.
BACKGROUND: Although the model of assertive outreach has been widely adopted, it is unclear who receives assertive outreach in practice and what outcomes can be expected under routine conditions. AIMS: To assess patient characteristics and outcome in routine assertive outreach services in the UK. METHOD: Patients (n=580) were sampled from 24 assertive outreach teams in London. Outcomes--days spent in hospital and compulsory hospitalisation--were assessed over a 9-month follow-up. RESULTS: The 6-month prevalence rate of substance misuse was 29%, and 35% of patients had been physically violent in the past 2 years. During follow-up, 39% were hospitalised and 25% compulsorily admitted. Outcome varied significantly between team types. These differences did not hold true when baseline differences in patient characteristics were controlled for. CONCLUSIONS: Routine assertive outreach serves a wide range of patients with significant rates of substance misuse and violent behaviour. Over a 9-month period an average of 25% of assertive outreach patients can be expected to be hospitalised compulsorily. Differences in outcome between team types can be explained by differences in patient characteristics.