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Am J Psychiatry. 1980 Mar;137(3):340-6.

Drug refusal: a study of psychiatric inpatients.


The authors studied patients' refusal of medication during a three-month period on an inpatient service of a community mental health center. Although refusal of medication was common, most episodes were self-limited. Only 5 of 72 episodes seriously impaired patient care; each of these cases appeared to be delusionally motivated. Legal conceptions of a right to refuse treatment may not accurately portray the realities of the clinical situation, in which patients' refusal is determined by the dynamics of their illness rather than reflecting a principled exercise of their legal rights.

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