A framework for classifying state involuntary commitment statutes

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A typology for classifying state involuntary commitment statutes is described. The basis for classifying the statutes was the severity of the state criteria, the number of possible alternatives available for commitment purposes and, the need for evidence. Based on the classification system, an empirical analysis examined the relationship between the stringency levels of the commitment statutes and rates of admission to state and county hospitals. A log linear regression model was specified using admission rates as the dependent variable and a host of sociodemographic and other supply factors as independent variables. The results of the analysis support the hypothesis that states with stringent involuntary commitment statutes have fewer admissions to state and county hospitals. The typology used in this analysis has numerous public policy applications and can be updated easily as states change their statute criteria.

This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health's National Association of State Mental Health Policy Directors Fellows Program.