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Nord J Psychiatry. 2008;62(6):444-9. doi: 10.1080/08039480801984248.

Patients' and next-of-kins' attitudes towards compulsory psychiatric care.

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  • 1Centre for Clinical Research, University of Uppsala, Central Hospital, Vasterås, Sweden.


The introduction of a new Civil Commitment Act in Sweden in 1992 involved a shift of emphasis from medical to judicial authority. Little is known about general patient attitudes to compulsory care. The aim of the study was to study possible differences in attitudes, before and after the mental health law reform, among involuntarily and voluntarily admitted patients and their next-of-kins towards involuntary psychiatric admission. Samples of 84 committed and 84 voluntarily admitted patients in 1991 and 118 committed and 117 voluntarily admitted patients in 1997-99 were interviewed within 5 days from admission and at discharge, or after 3 weeks of care. Samples of 64 next-of-kins to the committed patients and 69 next-of-kins to the voluntarily admitted patients in 1991, and 73 and 89 next-of-kins, respectively, in 1997-99 were interviewed approximately 1 month after the admission. Few changes in attitudes were found between the two study occasions. A majority of all patients stated that it should be possible to compulsorily admit patients, and a great majority of the patients and the next-of kins stated that decisions regarding compulsory admission should be taken by doctors. Most patients and next-of-kins regarded decisions about involuntary psychiatric care mainly as a medical matter. Strong support for coercion in order to protect the patient and others was found among next-of-kins. The law reform was not reflected in attitudinal differences.

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