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Case management was originally a specific, tightly defined, role developed for the care of de-institutionalised psychiatric patients in the US. The term rapidly caught on and, as a consequence of its success, is now widely used throughout mental health care (and beyond). Predictably it is now surrounded by ambiguity and controversy. This paper explores its history - from the age of innocence, through that of controversy, to consolidation. It attempts to identify what, if anything, is unique to the approach by examining the reported features of its most developed form (Assertive Community Treatment). It goes on to speculate on whether such a 'generic' role will survive the increasing range of evidence based mental health interventions that are in use.

Original publication




Journal article


International Review of Psychiatry

Publication Date





212 - 218