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Patient's experiences of involuntary hospital admission and treatment: A review of qualitative studies

  • Christina Katsakou (a1) and Stefan Priebe (a1)


Aims - This study aimed to explore psychiatric patients' experiences of involuntary admission and treatment by reviewing qualitative studies. Method - Qualitative studies investigating patients' experiences of involuntary treatment were identified. Relevant databases were searched and authors were contacted. Thematic analysis was applied for the synthesis of emerging issues. Results - Five studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The main areas that appear to be of importance are: patients' perceived autonomy and participation in decisions for themselves, their feeling of whether or not they are being cared for and their sense of identity. In these areas both negative and positive consequences from involuntary admission were mentioned. However, methodological weaknesses were also found, such as small sample sizes. Furthermore, it is not described whether these themes are mentioned by all participants as negative and positive aspects of their experience or whether they reflect views supported by distinct groups. Conclusions - Although the perceived impact of involuntary treatment is fairly clearly described, differences between distinct patient groups are not examined. Future research should investigate such differences in order to inform relevant policy decisions for particular groups.

Declaration of Interest: None.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Professor S. Priebe, Academic Unit, Newham Centre for Mental Health, London E13 8SP (United Kingdom). Fax: 0 (+44) 20 7540 2976 E-mail:


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