U.S. psychiatrists' beliefs and wants about involuntary civil commitment grounds

Int J Law Psychiatry. 2006 Jan-Feb;29(1):13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2005.04.004. Epub 2005 Nov 14.


This article presents results of a national U.S. survey of psychiatrists' views about legal grounds for involuntary civil commitment. Data from 739 Respondents revealed strong support for "danger to self," "danger to others," and "grave disability" as grounds, but weak support for "illness relapse." Psychiatrists did not support commitment for addiction to drugs or alcohol nor for sexual predators. Logit regression revealed few significant associations between Respondents' choice of grounds and other variables, such as race, employment setting, experience with commitment, and political climate of the state. Respondents' support for the various commitment grounds was found to be most significantly associated with what Respondents believed the law to be in their state; Respondents tended to support the grounds they believed to be the law. The reasons for the strong association between Respondents' beliefs and wants concerning commitment grounds is explored. It is suggested that Respondents have adopted their states' commitment grounds as their preferences through a process of internalization of norms. Implications of this hypothesis are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill*
  • Culture*
  • Humans
  • Psychiatry / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires