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J Adv Nurs. 2001 Jan;33(1):89-97.

Experiences of coercion in psychiatric care as narrated by patients, nurses and physicians.

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  • 1Department of Nursing, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.



The aim of the study was to increase understanding of psychiatric patients', nurses' and physicians' experience of coercion, in relation to their own and the other parties' experiences.


Seven triads of patient, nurse and physician narrated their experiences of the same coercive event. The 21 interviews were analysed focusing on narrative elements.


The nurse and physician narratives revealed that they felt unable to connect with the patients, while the patients told us that they wanted more human contact with nurses and physicians. All three parties expressed the belief that interpersonal relationships and the human contact were important. The nurses and physicians stated that knowing the patient made them feel easier about using coercion and that their actions were less violating for the patient. The patients stated that human contact alleviated their feeling of discomfort and made them feel more secure when subjected to coercion.


The salient aspect described by all three parts was the importance of human contact and having a mutual relationship. These findings indicate a need for more dialogue between patients and staff. The dialogue should aim at making staff understand patients' feelings better regarding coercion and at informing the patients about the coercive measures.

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