Different forms of informal coercion in psychiatry: a qualitative study

Veikko Pelto-Piri*, Lars Kjellin, Ulrika Hylén, Emanuele Valenti, Stefan Priebe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
152 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVES: The objective of the study was to investigate how mental health professionals describe and reflect upon different forms of informal coercion.

RESULTS: In a deductive qualitative content analysis of focus group interviews, several examples of persuasion, interpersonal leverage, inducements, and threats were found. Persuasion was sometimes described as being more like a negotiation. Some participants worried about that the use of interpersonal leverage and inducements risked to pass into blackmail in some situations. In a following inductive analysis, three more categories of informal coercion was found: cheating, using a disciplinary style and referring to rules and routines. Participants also described situations of coercion from other stakeholders: relatives and other authorities than psychiatry. The results indicate that informal coercion includes forms that are not obviously arranged in a hierarchy, and that its use is complex with a variety of pathways between different forms before treatment is accepted by the patient or compulsion is imposed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number787 (2019)
Number of pages4
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019


  • Coercion
  • Ethics
  • Informal coercion
  • Leverage
  • Psychiatry
  • Qualitative research


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