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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Perceptions of coercion in the community: a qualitative study of patients in a Danish assertive community treatment team

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Assertive community treatment (ACT) has been claimed to be paternalistic and coercive, yet little is known about how patients experience the assertive aspects of ACT. To explore views on--and perceptions of--coercion of patients in Danish assertive community teams. In-depth interviews were conducted with six purposefully selected patients and analysed using thematic analysis. Patients reported lack of influence on treatment process and a poor alliance with case-mangers, not being recognised as an autonomous person, and experiences of staff crossing the line and intruding privacy, as most central to perceptions of coercion. A collaborative and mutually trusting relationship, commitment, persistence and availability of staff, and recognition of the need for social support and help with everyday activities, were most important for counteracting such experiences. Perceptions of coercion were not emphasised in patients' account of their engagement with ACT, and generally only related to patients' initial contact with ACT staff. The study suggests that developing mental health practices that enhance the formation of a therapeutic relationship with patients will minimize circumstances that induce perceptions of coercion. ACT, with its engaged and committed staff with sufficient time, focusing on social and practical issues, is successful in facilitating such a contact, as experienced by patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatric Quarterly
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Attitude of Health Personnel; Coercion; Community Mental Health Services; Cooperative Behavior; Denmark; Female; Humans; Male; Mental Disorders; Paternalism; Personal Autonomy; Privacy; Professional-Patient Relations; Qualitative Research; Residence Characteristics; Social Support

ID: 171399