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Differences between patients with positive and negative views regarding justification of involuntary admission


Involuntary admission to a psychiatric hospital is often a long, complicated process likely to elicit strong feelings in patients experiencing it. Qualitative research in this area would give us a better understanding of patients' views on this complex experience and help interpret findings from quantitative studies.


The present study complements a quantitative investigation on outcomes of involuntary admission. 60 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients who had been involuntarily admitted in 4 sites in the England. The sampling and analysis methodology draws on grounded theory. The sample includes participants admitted under different sections of the Mental Health Act. Their experiences of involuntary admission and treatment and their views on the justification of these interventions were explored. Comparisons between participants with overall positive and negative views were performed. Changes in patients' views over time were particularly examined. Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data was coded using MAXqda software for qualitative analysis.


Results indicate that the evaluation of risk and mental illness, as well as perceived violations of autonomy and discrimination shaped participants' views on the justification of their compulsory admission and treatment. Patterns of changing views consisted of gradual realisation of poor mental state and subsequent need for treatment.

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Correspondence to Christina Katsakou.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Katsakou, C., Priebe, S., Rose, D. et al. Differences between patients with positive and negative views regarding justification of involuntary admission. BMC Psychiatry 7, S57 (2007).

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  • Mental Health
  • Mental Illness
  • Mental State
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Study