Mending and maintaining the quality of lives: Evaluating the treatment programs provided for mentally disordered offenders in British Columbia

The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in British Columbia is currently evaluating approximately 30 rehabilitation programs offered to psychiatric patients who are found not criminally responsible for offenses because of severe mental illnesses, such as major mood disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. While standard outcome indicators are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs, these are difficult to develop because each patient experiences different symptoms and disabilities. Carol Wong is assessing a patient-centered evaluation tool (called Goal Attainment Scaling) for measuring patient improvement. Using this approach, the treatment team identifies and evaluates the most important goals and outcomes for each patient to achieve in a particular timeframe. Carol is also examining whether a patient’s readiness for treatment has an impact on outcomes, as this factor has consistently been overlooked in practice. The results of this research should help improve the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs, therefore reducing the likelihood of repeat offenses and improving mental health and quality of life for forensic psychiatric patients and their families.