Coercion in psychiatry: A cross‐sectional study on staff views and emotions [2020]

Little is known about staff attitudes towards Coercive interventions (CI) and emotions accompanying these measures.

The current study assessed attitudes, views on reflective interventions, and accompanying emotions of different occupational groups towards CI, as well as factors, which increase the probability of CI.

Staff members (N=138) of a large psychiatric hospital in Germany were assessed using the Staff Attitude to Coercion Scale and newly developed items assessing staff members’ emotions and views on coercion.

Experienced staff members were most critical of coercion. Nurses rated coercion significantly more positively than other staff. A majority experienced compassion; about half felt helplessness, grief, or anxiety. Almost 20% felt a sense of power. Nurses felt more desperation than others. Participants strongly desired reflective measures such as post‐seclusion/‐restraint debriefings with patients. According to staff members, stress on the wards and low staffing increase the probability of CI.

The study is the first known to the authors that assessed accompanying emotions during the application of CI. Attitudes towards coercion and associated emotions are influenced by individual staff characteristics (e.g. profession, work experience).

The presence of experienced staff members may help prevent CI. Staff consider reflective interventions helpful in reducing CI.

Eva Krieger, Steffen Moritz, Tania M. Lincoln, Rabea Fischer, Matthias Nagel
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 29 April 2020