Since September 1997, the Douglas Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Montreal, has had a team of workers using the ACT (assertive community treatment) model, developed in the United States to treat in their own milieu patients who are suffering from severe mental health problems and who are difficult to treat in conventional settings. This project added to the ACT model a dimension of combating substance abuse in this population. Integrating the services helped address the needs of people who would otherwise be excluded from drug and alcohol treatment because of their mental health problems and excluded from mental health programs because of their substance abuse. The researchers conclude that it is possible to transfer the ACT model from the United States to Canada, despite differences in their health systems. The evaluation of the project demonstrates a significant effect on quality of life for patients, although the project did not succeed in significantly reducing substance abuse. Overall, cost savings were approximately $4,000 per year per patient.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.