Coercion in Outpatients under Community Treatment Orders: A Matched Comparison Study [2018]

Since the deinstitutionalization of psychiatric services around the world, the scope of outpatient psychiatric care has also increased to better support treatment access and adherence. For those with serious mental illness who may lack insight into their own illness, available interventions include coercive community practices such as mandated community treatment orders (CTOs). This paper examines the perceptions of coercion among service users treated with a CTO.

We used a cross-sectional comparative design where service users treated under a CTO were matched to a comparison group of voluntary psychiatric outpatients. Both groups were receiving intensive community mental health services (n = 69 in each group). Participants were interviewed using a series of questionnaires aimed at evaluating their perceptions of coercion and other aspects of the psychiatric treatment.

The level of coercion reported by service users treated under a CTO was significantly higher than that in the comparison group. However, in adjusted analyses, service users’ perception of coercion, irrespective of their CTO status, was directly correlated with their previous experience with probation and inversely correlated with the sense of procedural justice in their treatment.

Evaluation of psychiatric service users’ experiences of coercion should consider their past and current involvement with other types of coercive measures, particularly history of probation. Clinicians may be able to minimize these experiences of coercion by incorporating procedural justice principles into their practice.

Arash Nakhost, MD, PhD, Frank Sirotich, PhD, RSW, Katherine M. Francombe Pridham, MSW, Vicky Stergiopoulos, MD, MHSc, Alexander I. F. Simpson, MBChB BMedSci, FRANZCP
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 63, Issue 11, 2018