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Descriptive outcomes for a cohort of high-frequency psychiatric service users in the Western Cape, South Africa after 10 years

Danell Coetzee
Liezl Koen
Dana Niehaus
Ulla Botha


Background: Assertive community treatment (ACT) is an intervention implemented to manage the effects of deinstitutionalisation. South African studies have reported decreased admissions at 12 and 36 months when a modified ACT intervention is compared with standard care. However, costs associated with the intervention have raised the question of its feasibility in developing countries.
Aim: This study aimed to describe the long-term demographic and clinical outcomes of a group of psychiatric high-frequency users (HFUs) included in the first South African ACT study.
Setting: Stikland Psychiatric Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.
Methods: Data from 55 HFUs participating in the first South African ACT trial, including both the intervention and control groups, were retrospectively reviewed 10 years after the patients’ inclusion.
Results: Of the 55 HFUs initially included, nine remained in the formal ACT programme whilst 16 received standard care over the full 10 years. Five patients died and two were admitted to long-term wards. The mean number of admissions was 3.73 and the mean number of admission days was 261.11 over the 10 years. Twelve patients were never re-admitted; of these, nine came from the original study intervention group.
Conclusions: This was the first study looking at the long-term outcomes of a group of psychiatric HFUs in an under-resourced setting receiving either a modified ACT intervention or standard outpatient care. Reflecting broadly on the group, there were a larger number of patients in the original ACT group who had no re-admissions and a comparatively higher utilisation of available services during the 10-year follow-up period.

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eISSN: 2078-6786
print ISSN: 1608-9685