Few mental health and law topics have generated as much discussion as involuntary civil commitment. It has been a core issue since the late 196Os and early 1970s, when advocates sought to limit its use to cases in which an individual appeared to be clearly dangerous and its use has been a cornerstone for more recent research that has sought to provide a conceptual and empirical basis for understanding coercion. In 1999, new forms for initiating an involuntary civil commitment will be implemented in the state of Florida. The MHLP Data Center at the University of South Florida has received an opportunity to compile and manage the data generated by these forms for research purposes. This is a unique opportunity, as to date, no one has attempted to compile such civil commitment information, yet alone possess the capacity to link it with other service data, which currently exist in the MHLP Data Center. This proposal seeks funding to enhance the capacities of the Data Center to benefit from this opportunity, as well as conduct preliminary research on civil commitment from a perspective never before feasible. Specifically, this study proposes to establish the data management structure to compile the commitment data, conduct a series of analyses with the data (including linking to other health service history and criminal justice data sets) focussing on the people and processes affected in the civil commitment system, and finally establish """"""""on-line"""""""", web-based access to de-identified civil commitment data to promote accountability among facilities (thus improving data fidelity) as well as encourage innovative research by investigators nation-wide. Questions that will be addressed by this exploratory study include: How do professionals, judges, and law officers behave with respect to the certification process? Are there differences by race, ethnicity, gender, and age across certification types and evidence types? What effect does market competition have on the commitment process? What are the financial dynamics of the commitment process (e.g., cost shifting)? What are the mental health and physical health service utilization patterns prior to and subsequent to commitment? What particular patterns of behavior prompt admissions? What is the nature of the relationship between the civil commitment system and the criminal justice system in dealing with persons with mental illness?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Services Research Review Committee (SER)
Program Officer
Juliano-Bult, Denise M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of South Florida
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
Zip Code
Christy, Annette; Bond, Jennifer; Young, M Scott (2007) Short-term involuntary examination of older adults in Florida. Behav Sci Law 25:615-28
Kessell, Eric R; Catalano, Ralph A; Christy, Annette et al. (2006) Rates of unemployment and incidence of police-initiated examinations for involuntary hospitalization in Florida. Psychiatr Serv 57:1435-9
Christy, Annette; Kutash, Krista; Stiles, Paul (2006) Short term involuntary psychiatric examination of children in Florida. Adm Policy Ment Health 33:578-84