Do long-term hospitalised patients benefit from discharge into the community?
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Objective The study investigated whether long-stay patients would benefit from discharge into the community in Berlin, Germany. Method In a prospective controlled study, all long-term hospitalised psychiatric patients from a defined catchment area were assessed using established standardised instruments. Quality of life, treatment satisfaction, needs and psychopathology were re-assessed in 63 non-discharged patients 1.5 years later, and in 65 resettled patients 1 year after discharge. Results Discharged patients were younger and had spent less time in psychiatric hospitalisation. Whilst patients who remained in hospital care did not show significant changes over time, discharged patients did. Changes in subjective quality of life and total number of needs – but not in psychopathology, unmet needs, and treatment satisfaction – were significantly more favourable in resettled patients as compared to the control group. Conclusion The findings are in line with other studies and suggest that long-stay patients can benefit from discharge into the community, particularly with respect to their quality of life. Positive changes in the process of deinstitutionalisation seem not dependent on the specific national context, and also apply to younger patients who have not yet spent 10 or more years in psychiatric hospitals.
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