Assertive outreach works
Tranzo, the scientific center for care and welfare at Tilburg University, has conducted research into the effects of assertive outreach programs. The primary conclusion of this research is that assertive outreach works. The research results will be presented during a symposium on Wednesday September 5. During the symposium, experts from the world of academia and from professional practice will discuss the importance of this research for practitioners. Members of the audience will also be welcome to join in the discussion.
Assertive outreach programs were initiated twenty years ago in the Netherlands to help those with complex psychiatric problems and addictive disorders. These programs focus on individuals who are not being treated through regular channels, for example in mental health care, addiction counseling or by social services, in spite of a worrisome and potentially dangerous lifestyle or living situation. Assertive outreach counselors approach clients after being informed of their situation by family members, neighbors or the client's landlord. The counselors then provide low-threshold, practical assistance in the client's own residential environment with the goal of referring them to regular agencies and care providers within a few months.
So far, research in the Netherlands has focused exclusively on Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), a form of assertive outreach that originated in the United States. This is the first time that research has been conducted into assertive outreach programs that have been developed right here in the Netherlands. This is an important step, because there are many assertive outreach teams active in this country.
For three years, researchers followed independently operating assertive care teams in various regions of the country in order to gain insight into the effectiveness of these programs. The research concentrated on the ability of assertive outreach programs to alleviate clients' problems, their quality of life and the relationship between client and care provider, among other aspects. The researchers were also eager to ascertain whether the positive effects of these programs continued to be felt following referral to regular care providers. ZonMw provided funding for this research project.
The research indicates a similar baseline among clients at the start of an assertive outreach program when compared to patients in traditional psychiatric treatment programs. In half of cases, the clients had serious problems with alcohol, narcotics or medication, two thirds found it difficult to establish or maintain social contacts and 54% had a serious problem in their residential situation. In a quarter of cases, clients were even facing an imminent threat of eviction, homelessness or a total lack of basic facilities in their residential environment. Clients also experience a relatively low quality of life. The research tracked whether clients experienced improvements in these and other aspects. The researchers also asked clients about their satisfaction with assertive outreach at the conclusion of the program. The results of this research project form an important contribution to the evidence-based status of assertive outreach programs.
Assertive outreach symposium
Wednesday September 5
14:30 - 17:00
Cobbenhagen building, room CZ114
See the program for more information. Registration is open until August 31. Please use the registration form.
The report The effects of assertive outreach will be made available following the symposium at www.tranzo.nl.