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How do we know ACT is effective?

Since the original ACT program began in Madison, Wisconsin, nearly 30 years ago, programs have been implemented in Canada, in 35 States, England, Sweden, Australia, and the Netherlands. As ACT spread, researchers carefully studied its effectiveness. Reviews of ACT research consistently conclude that, compared with other treatments (e.g., brokered or clinical case management programs), ACT greatly reduces psychiatric hospitalization and leads to a higher level of housing stability (Phillips et al., 2001).

Research also shows that, compared to other treatments, ACT has the same or better effect on consumers’ quality of life, symptoms, and social functioning. In addition, consumers and family members report greater satisfaction (Bond et al., 2001; Phillips et al., 2001).

While studies consistently show that ACT is associated with many beneficial outcomes, the Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT) made up of researchers from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University found that people who might benefit from ACT often do not receive this intervention (Lehman et. al., 1998).  Those findings ultimately led to creating a series of KITS produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one in which summarizes the evidence of ACT (

Reproduced with permission from the the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).