The effectiveness of the mobile crisis outreach model
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Since the deinstitutionalization in the 1950s of thousands of individuals with severe mental illness who were released from psychiatric hospitals without adequate support, communities have struggled to provide crisis interventions for people who would otherwise end up in emergency departments, jails, and hospitals. Mobile crisis outreach teams began to emerge in the early 1970s as one solution to the need for stabilizing consumers in the community. Despite their proliferation over the past 30 to 40 years, there is a paucity of program evaluations or sound empirical investigations supporting their effectiveness (Murphy, Irving, Adams, & Driver, 2012). The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the mobile crisis outreach team model in reducing placement in more costly and restrictive settings and in linking individuals to more appropriate mental health services. The specific aim of this study was to evaluate the relative effectiveness of three independent variables, which are distinct crisis intervention methods on a number of dependent variables related to community-based behavioral health utilization and post intervention emergency department utilization, inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, and crisis residential stays. Results were mixed with respect to crisis interventions’ statistically significant effect on decreasing post intervention ED visits, psychiatric hospitalizations, and crisis residential stays. The interventions were not significantly different from each other. Following the interventions, approximately 70% of participants were linked to community-based behavioral health services although results suggest that other factors such as a diagnosis of schizophrenia and older age are most predictive of service linkage. Future research is needed to distinguish the impact of the mobile aspect of crisis interventions.