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Sunday 25th February 2018

Using force for psychiatric drugs queried

5th December 2008

UK researchers say the practice of forcing psychiatric patients to take medication is not backed by evidence.


Writing in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, they point out that very few rigorous investigations of the use of coerced medication have been carried out.

While that lack of evidence remains unacceptable, they said, the practice remains widespread.

The team from the Institute of Psychiatry and City University in London found 14 studies on forcing psychiatric inpatients to take medication from UK, USA, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Canada and Denmark.

Most patients looked at had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or another psychotic illness and had been admitted involuntarily.

They found few details on events leading up to the coerced medication incidents and no investigation into alternatives.

Study leader Manuela Jarrett said she had hoped to find more evidence on the factors that lead up to coerced medication, what constitutes a risk and how long the patient has been on the ward.

"We also need more research into early intervention and whether that can prevent coerced medication," she said.

She feared that lack of evidence indicated the practice was taken for granted in psychiatric hospitals.

The mental health charity Mind said forcing patients to take medicine in such a way was distressing for them.

Senior policy and campaign’s officer Alison Cobb said: "The threat of coerced medication can discourage people from seeking treatment when they need it and may damage the relationship between patients and mental heath professionals."

Mind wants to see more studies on the issue as a matter of urgency.


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