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BACKGROUND: The number of people with severe mental illness who receive treatment whilst living at home has increased greatly over the last 30 years. Day centres and day hospitals frequently supplement this treatment. OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of non-medical day centre care for people with severe mental illness. SEARCH STRATEGY: The Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (1985-1999), The British Nursing Index (1994-1998), The Cochrane Library (Issue 2, 1999), The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's Register (May 1999), EMBASE (1980-1999), MEDLINE (1966-1999), PsycLIT (1887-1999), The Royal College of Nurses Database (1985-1996), and Sociological Abstracts (1963-1999) were searched. References of all identified studies were also inspected for more studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised controlled trials where seriously mentally ill people were allocated to non-medical day centre care. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Studies were reliably selected, quality rated and data extracted. For dichotomous data, it had been hoped to estimate the Peto odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) and the number needed to treat statistic (NNT). Analysis was to have been by intention-to-treat. Normal continuous data were to have been summated using the weighted mean difference (WMD) and scale data presented only for those tools that had attained pre-specified levels of quality. MAIN RESULTS: Despite extensive searching, no trials were found of non-medical day centres. The electronic search identified over 300 citations but none was relevant to this review. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: The reviewers feel that the inclusion of any studies less rigorous than randomised trials would result in misleading findings and that it is not unreasonable to expect well designed, conducted and reported randomised controlled trials of day centre care. More precise nomenclature would greatly help identify relevant work. At present non-randomised comparative studies give conflicting messages about the roles provided by day centres and the clinical and social needs they are able to meet. It is therefore probably best that people with serious mental illness and their carers, if given the choice, take a pragmatic decision on which type of unit best meets their needs. There is a clear need for randomised controlled trials of day centre care compared to other forms of day care, such as day hospitals.

Original publication




Journal article


Cochrane Database Syst Rev

Publication Date



Community Mental Health Centers, Day Care, Medical, Humans, Mental Disorders, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic