Post-deinstitutionalisation, mental health supported accommodation services have been implemented widely. The available research evidence is heterogeneous in nature and resistant to synthesis attempts, leaving researchers and policy makers with no clear summary what works and for whom. In this context, we undertook a comprehensive systematic review of quantitative studies in order to synthesise the current evidence on mental health and psychosocial outcomes for individuals residing in mental health supported accommodation services.
Using a combination of electronic database searches, hand searches, forward-backward snowballing and article recommendations from an expert panel, 115 papers were identified for review. Data extraction and quality assessments were conducted, and 33 articles were excluded due to low quality, leaving 82 papers in the final review. Variation in terminology and service characteristics made the comparison of service models unfeasible. As such, findings were presented according to the following sub-groups: ‘Homeless’, ‘Deinstitutionalisation’ and ‘General Severe Mental Illness (SMI)’.
Results were mixed, reflecting the heterogeneity of the supported accommodation literature, in terms of research quality, experimental design, population, service types and outcomes assessed. There is some evidence that supported accommodation is effective across a range of psychosocial outcomes. The most robust evidence supports the effectiveness of the permanent supported accommodation model for homeless SMI in generating improvements in housing retention and stability, and appropriate use of clinical services over time, and for other forms of supported accommodation for deinstitutionalised populations in reducing hospitalisation rates and improving appropriate service use. The evidence base for general SMI populations is less developed, and requires further research.
A lack of high-quality experimental studies, definitional inconsistency and poor reporting continue to stymie our ability to identify effective supported accommodation models and practices. The authors recommend improved reporting standards and the prioritisation of experimental studies that compare outcomes across different service models.