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Exploring Patients' Feeling of Being Coerced During Psychiatric Hospital Admission: A Qualitative Study.

Various coercive measures can be used to legally compel a person suffering from psychiatric disorder to undergo treatment. However, evidence suggests that patients' feeling of being coerced is not determined solely by their being submitted to formal coercion. This study aimed to explore voluntary and involuntary patients' experience of coercion during psychiatric hospitalisation and to identify which factors, from their perspective, most affected it. We chose a qualitative design inspired by a hermeneutic-phenomenological approach. Participants were purposively selected from six psychiatric hospitals in Switzerland. Maximum variation sampling was used to ensure the inclusion of patients with different levels of perceived coercion and different admission statuses. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were co-conducted by a research psychologist and a service-user researcher. The transcribed data underwent thematic analysis. All twelve interviewed patients described the hospitalisation as an experience of loss of control over their life due to either external or internal pressures. During the process, perceptions of these pressures varied and sometimes overlapped, leading some patients to describe their admission as a form of simultaneous protection and violation. The balance between these two contradictory feelings was affected by a variety of contextual and relational factors, as well as by the meaningfulness of the experience and the patient's subsequent satisfaction with it. Increasing policy-makers' and clinicians' awareness about the main factors influencing patients' experience of loss of control is of paramount importance in order to develop skills and strategies able to address them, reinforcing patients' empowerment, reducing their feeling of coercion and improving their well-being.

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