Efficacy of psychiatric day treatment. Course and outcome of psychiatric disorders in a randomised trial

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The course of the psychopathology and social functioning in an experimental day-treatment group referred for inpatient psychiatric treatment is compared with that of a control group receiving standard inpatient care. During a follow-up period of 2 years subjects were interviewed three times. The interview comprised information about psychiatric symptoms, psychological functions, psychiatric diagnosis and social-role functioning. Apart from these discrete assessments an effort was made to map episodes of illness throughout the follow-up period. Upon entry the groups did not differ in terms of psychopathology or social functioning. At follow-up both groups had improved significantly with respect to symptomatology, psychological and social functioning. The extent to which the groups improved did not differ significantly regarding pathology, but self-care improved more in the experimental group. The average duration of episodes of illness was similar for the experimental and control group. During the 2-year follow-up patients suffered from a well-defined disorder during an average of 11 months. The fact that approximately 40% of them were still a psychiatric case after 2 years further underscores the severity of their pathology.