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Purpose Providing good continuity of care to patients is considered a vital component of community mental health services, but there is limited evidence that it is associated with good outcomes. We measured service use and a multidimensional concept of continuity of care in 323 patients who were to be discharged from hospital following compulsory treatment for psychosis to investigate the association between continuity and rehospitalisation. Methods We conducted a 36-month prospective cohort study of the patients recruited to the Oxford Community Treatment Order Trial (OCTET). We collected data from medical records on eight previously operationalized measures of continuity. We conducted regression analyses to determine the association between these measures and readmission to hospital, time to readmission, and the number of days spent in hospital. Results Almost two thirds (n = 206, 63.8%) of patients were readmitted. Patients were seen frequently, with a mean of 2.9 (SD = 2.47) contacts a month throughout the follow-up. Less frequent contact was significantly associated with lower odds of rehospitalisation and fewer days in hospital. More changes in the patient’s care coordinator were associated with more time in hospital. Patients who had a higher proportion of clinical correspondence copied to them spent fewer days in hospital. Conclusion Patients with severe and relapsing psychotic illness are seen frequently and consistently in community mental health services. Higher levels of patient contact could be a response to the severity of illness rather than a marker of quality of care. Using a simple linear interpretation of contact frequency as a measure of continuity of care in this patient group may be of limited value in modern services.

Original publication




Journal article


Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology


Springer Verlag (Germany)

Publication Date