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BACKGROUND: In 2008, the Swiss Civil Code was amended. From 1 January 2013, each Swiss canton may propose specific provisions for involuntary outpatient treatment (community treatment orders (CTOs)) for individuals with mental disorders. AIM: This review catalogues the legal provisions of the various Swiss cantons for CTOs and outlines the differences between them. It sets this in the context of variations in clinical provisions between the cantons. METHODS: Databases were searched to obtain relevant publications about CTOs in Switzerland. The Swiss Medical Association, Swiss Federal Statistical Office, Swiss Health Observatory and all the 26 Cantonal medical officers were contacted to complete the information. Conférence des cantons en matière de protection des mineurs et des adultes (COPMA), the authority which monitors guardianship legislation, and Pro Mente Sana, a patients' right association, were also approached. RESULTS: Three articles about CTOs in Switzerland were identified. Psychiatric provisions vary considerably between cantons and only a few could provide complete or even partial figures for rates of compulsion in previous years. Prior to 2013, only 6 of the 20 cantons, for which information was returned, had any provision for CTOs. Now, every canton has some form of legal basis but the level of detail is often limited. In eight cantons, the powers of the measure are not specified (for example, use of medication). In 12 cantons, the maximum duration of the CTO is not specified. German speaking cantons and rural cantons are more likely to specify the details of CTOs. CONCLUSION: Highly variable Swiss provision for CTOs is being introduced despite the absence of convincing international evidence for their effectiveness or good quality data on current coercive practice. Careful monitoring and assessment of these new cantonal provisions are essential.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Soc Psychiatry

Publication Date





695 - 702


Community treatment order, Switzerland, coercion, involuntary outpatient treatment, legislation, mental health, Ambulatory Care, Community Health Services, Humans, Mental Disorders, Outpatients, Switzerland