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Community Treatment Orders (CTO) have been available for several decades in some countries and are being progressively introduced worldwide, with significant uptake in Asian countries as they move more mental health care into the community. However the evidence for the effectiveness of CTOs is limited. The evidence from local audits and evaluations is conflicted with some studies showing clear benefit and others not. The same is the case for uncontrolled before and after studies. The higher levels of evidence such as randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews, and Cochrane reviews have consistently failed to demonstrate benefits from CTO use on key measures such as symptom levels, functioning, and healthcare use. Despite this they are increasingly available internationally and often greeted enthusiastically by clinicians and families who want to ensure care and follow up for the mentally ill. This article briefly discusses the evidence before describing potential alternatives to the use of compulsion that do have an evidence base, such as multidisciplinary community working, housing initiatives, and employment support.

Original publication




Journal article


Asian J Psychiatr

Publication Date





1 - 4


Community mental health care, Community treatment orders, Evidence based health care, Community Mental Health Services, Evidence-Based Practice, Humans