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Keywords:

  • coercion;
  • inpatient;
  • literature review;
  • medication;
  • mental health;
  • nursing;
  • psychiatric care

Abstract

Title. Coerced medication in psychiatric inpatient care: literature review.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a narrative review of the coercive use of medication in inpatient psychiatric care to identify a demographic and clinical profile of patients who are forcibly medicated, and to examine patient and staff views of this practice.

Background.  Lack of compliance with medication is associated with quicker relapse and increased risk to self and others in mental disorder. It is this increased risk which provides the ethical and legal grounds for detaining and treating psychiatric patients without their consent. Legislation for involuntary psychiatric treatment exists in all European Union member states and in other western countries.

Data sources.  Online bibliographic databases from 1980 to 2008 were searched, including British Nursing Index, CINAHL, PsycINFO, EMBASE and MEDLINE. Search terms relating to coercion, force, chemical restraint, rapid tranquilization, inpatients and psychiatry were used.

Review methods.  Titles and abstracts were reviewed. All peer reviewed papers concerning coercion in the administration of medication in inpatient psychiatric care were included and a narrative review was conducted.

Results.  Fourteen papers from seven countries were included. Patients who have experience coerced medication tend to be aged in their 30s, with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar or other psychotic disorders, and are often involuntarily admitted. Assault or threat of assault is the main reason for giving forced medication.

Conclusion.  There is a dearth of literature in the area of coercion in administration of medication and much more research is needed examining all aspects of this contentious practice.