Published in March 2022
Abstract: Mandatory outpatient treatment schemes such as community treatment orders remain controversial despite being commonly used around the world. Given concerns about patient autonomy and civil liberties, such schemes need to be closely scrutinised. Though Hong Kong's mandatory outpatient treatment scheme, the conditional discharge (CD) regime, has a number of significant legal concerns, empirical research on how it operates on the ground remains limited, and data on the subjective experience of relevant stakeholders is limited to healthcare professionals. This two-part cross-sectional study, the first on the service user perspective in Hong Kong, rectifies this gap. Data was collected through a self-reported survey and semi-structured interviews. Results demonstrated that, while similar themes to those in the literature were raised, such as powerlessness, a lack of understanding about the regime and in particular their rights thereunder, concerns about restrictive aspects of the regime and poor attitudes of healthcare professionals, and in some cases positive sentiments about beneficial aspects, the Hong Kong experience differs in the significant extent to which many of these concerns are demonstrated. The insights which this data provides in relation to how the implementation of the CD regime can be improved prior to legal reform is discussed, and suggestions for the way forward are proposed.
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