Toward effective community care for persons with severe mental illness and deinstitutionalization in Japan, we assessed the impact of the first trial of an assertive community treatment program on the lives and subjective perceptions of persons with mental illness without closing hospitals.
Forty-three subjects were enrolled from the newly admitted patients of a hospital, who met our criteria of problematic hospital use, severity of psychiatric disorders, and behavioral problems. The intervention team aimed to intensively support them in various life domains in their communities to decrease clients' admissions. The Quality of Life Interview was administered at baseline and after 12 months. Data were analyzed to assess the pre-post changes in their QOL, and were explained in association with other descriptive variables.
The objective changes included increase in persons whose longest residence in a year were in communities, increase in income, and decrease in family contacts. Most subjective items were not changed except the decrease in satisfaction with family relationships. Satisfaction with family relationships was negatively correlated with hospital days at 1 year follow-up after controlling for symptoms, but was not so at baseline. Also, correlation between satisfaction with family relationships and global well-being was attenuated. A change in the positioning of family by clients and the autonomy of clients were suggested. However, previous studies showed that dissatisfaction with family relationships predicted rehospitalizations independently from symptoms, and our findings suggest our subjects' characteristics and a possible improvement in community-based care.
Our program predominantly fulfilled the primary goal, but it must be further refined to reflect the detailed characteristics of the target population and resource distribution. Assessing subjective perceptions, or the QOL of clients is useful for evaluating the program localization.