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Attitudes among stakeholders towards compulsory mental health care in Norway

Attitudes among stakeholders towards compulsory mental health care in Norway

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 34(1): 1-6

The Norwegian Mental Health Care Act allows use of coercion under certain conditions. Even though the current practice has been criticized, little empirical data exist about the attitudes towards compulsory mental health care. This study used Q-methodology to identify prototypical attitudes and to test possible differences of attitudes between groups of stakeholders towards the use of coercion in mental health care. Sixty-two respondents who represented six groups with different roles in mental health care participated: former patients, relatives of psychiatric patients, members of supervisory commissions, psychiatrists, other physicians, and lawyers. The participants were asked to assess the degree to which they agreed on 30 statements concerning use of coercion for the mentally ill. Three factors that in a meaningful way express different attitudes towards the question were found. The most widely shared attitude stated that a trusting relationship between patient and therapist is more important than the right to have an attorney. This attitude gives partial support to the present Mental Health Care Act. However, the second most common attitude argues that involuntary hospitalization, if necessary, should be decided in a court and not by the hospital doctor. Differences in attitude could partly be explained by the respondents' role in mental health care. Both psychiatrists and "somatic" physicians expressed more agreement with the present legislation than the other stakeholders. The findings may have implications for the legal protection of mental health care patients.

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Accession: 051709846

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PMID: 21144587

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2010.11.001

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