A once 'sound' idea is now in question.
A 15-year study has concluded that there is no benefit in locking up many mentally ill patients.
Looking at about 350k cases, the researchers selected 145 738 cases, matched for propensity around suicide attempts. In open units, elopement and suicide attempts were less frequent than in locked units.
An open-door policy could be preferable for those with depression, anxiety or psychosis, as it promoted a better therapeutic atmosphere and more positive health outcomes
Even if this large study is imperfect, it gives us a perfect illustration that what seems sensible or logical does not necessarily result in the expected outcome. Although it makes sense that locking people up should not only help them stay put but also keep them safe,, that seems not to be the case.
Counterintuitive? Yes. But brains and bodies often do not conform to the rules of logic. This is in part due to the fact that we have only a superficial understanding of the complexity of our behaviours and physiology.
How else are we hurting people when we think we are helping them?
The full article is in Lancet Psychiatry.