Date: 27 Nov 2007

Preliminary Evidence of Effects of Crisis Intervention Team Training on Self-Efficacy and Social Distance

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Objective The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is a collaborative model involving mental health professionals and law enforcement officers that is being implemented in a multitude of localities across the country. This study had two main objectives: (1) To assess perceptions of self-efficacy and desired social distance of control officers and officers entering CIT training with regard to individuals with psychiatric syndromes (depression and schizophrenia) and individuals with substance dependence (alcohol and cocaine), and (2) To examine the effects, if any, of CIT training on self-efficacy and social distance. Methods Between March and July 2006, a survey was administered to 34 control police officers, 58 officers just before a 40-h CIT training program, and 40 of these officers upon completion of the training. Results At baseline, pre-CIT officers did not differ from control non-CIT officers in terms of self-efficacy or social distance relating to the four disorders. Officers trained in CIT demonstrated enhanced self-efficacy for interacting with individuals with depression, cocaine dependence, schizophrenia, and alcohol dependence. Additionally, CIT-trained officers reported reduced social distance regarding individuals with these four psychiatric conditions. Regarding the schizophrenia vignette, there was a significant interaction between pre-CIT/post-CIT status and family history of psychiatric treatment in the prediction of social distance. Conclusions Enhancements in self-efficacy and reductions in social distance may have important implications in terms of improving officers’ interactions with people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Given the importance of the problem of law enforcement/criminal justice involvement among people with such illnesses, and the dearth of research on this growing collaborative service model, further research is needed on officer-level outcomes of the CIT program.