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Psychiatric nursing and compulsory psychiatric care


Nicola Clark St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery, City University, Philpot Street, Whitechapel, London E1 2EA. E-mail:


Psychiatric nursing and compulsory psychiatric care

Community psychiatric nurses (CPNs) have long been involved in the operations of the English Mental Health Acts. Research has shown that compulsory detention is not used uniformly or consistently. Rates of involuntary hospitalization are reported to vary widely across Europe, but there is some consensus on patient profiles. The ethnicity, social status and gender of the patient, the involvement of the police, the availability of care, problems caused to relatives, and the country and particular legislative system where these judgements take place, all influence who is compulsorily detained.

This article reviews recent evidence from Europe and argues that involuntary psychiatric care can no longer be seen as entirely dependent on the symptoms and behaviour of the patient and that CPNs should be aware of and reflect upon these factors before invoking the detention process.