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Swiss Med Wkly. 2002 May 18;132(19-20):253-8.

Coercive procedures and facilities in Swiss psychiatry.

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  • 1Kantonale Psychiatric Hospital, CH-9500 Wil, Switzerland.



Coercive measures in psychiatry,although in many cases effective in violence management and injury reduction, have been criticised from a consumerist point of view.


A questionnaire regarding coercive facilities and procedures was dispatched to the charge nurses of 86 acute psychiatric admission wards in German speaking Switzerland covering a catchment area of 75% of the Swiss population.


95% of all wards responded rendering the survey representative. The majority of wards have seclusion rooms and 55% of charge nurses perceive seclusion facilities as adequate. Two to twenty staff members are involved in overwhelming dangerous patients and some discontent is expressed at the haphazard fashion in which such events occur. Almost 70% of the wards use a form for reporting, 42 % of wards keep statistics on violent incidents and 17% of wards have access to these data. Of all wards 84% register injections against patients' will, 83% seclusion, and 78% mechanical restraint and a minority of wards register the coercive administration of oral medication, forced nutrition, threats of coercive measures in case of pharmacological non-compliance.


Isolation, the coercive administration of medicine and restraint techniques are sensitive forms of treatment. Deficits reported by the charge nurses point to the need for enhanced facilities and improved forms of coercion management such as training in the use of mechanical restraints and the overwhelming of dangerous patients.


The data show considerable differences in the facilities, the use, and the recording of coercive measures in the area under scrutiny.

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