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Service users’ experiences of involuntary hospital admission under the Mental Health Act 2001 in the Republic of Ireland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Rebecca Murphy , David McGuinness, Emma Bainbridge, Liz Brosnan, Heike Felzmann, Mary Keys, Kathy Murphy, Brian Hallahan, Colm McDonald, Agnes Higgins

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1135
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number11
Early online date3 Jul 2017
Accepted/In press26 Apr 2017
E-pub ahead of print3 Jul 2017
Published1 Nov 2017


King's Authors


Objective: The objective of the study was to explore the
experiences of individuals admitted to the hospital involuntarily
under the Mental Health Act 2001 in the Republic of
Methods: In this qualitative descriptive study, 50 individuals
who had been involuntarily admitted to a hospital underwent
face-to-face semistructured interviews approximately three
months after revocation of the involuntary admission order.
Data were analyzed by using an inductive thematic process.
Results: Participants reported mixed experiences over the
course of the admission, with both positive and challenging
aspects. Participants reported feeling coerced, disempowered,
and unsupported at various stages of the
admission and highlighted the long-term deleterious impact
on their psychological well-being. However, participants
also described encounters with individuals who endeavored
to initiate a collaborative, informative, and compassionate
approach. Four key themes emerged consistently across
the trajectory of participants’ involuntary admission experiences:
feeling trapped and coerced, feeling disengaged
and unsupported, admission-induced distress, and personcentered
Conclusions: This qualitative study of service users’ views
across the entire trajectory of their involuntary admission
identified a number of factors that should be addressed to
reduce the negative impact of involuntary admission. A
multifaceted strategy could include ongoing education and
training of all stakeholders in the principles and practices of
person-centered care, repeated provision of accessible information
and emotional support to service users during all
stages of involuntary admission, and a shift in culture to one
that minimizes the traumatic impact of forced detention on
individuals’ psychological well-being.

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