Experiences with legally mandated treatment in patients with schizophrenia: A systematic review of qualitative studies

Eur Psychiatry. 2020 May 14;63(1):e39. doi: 10.1192/j.eurpsy.2020.37.


Background: Patients with severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, may be legally mandated to undergo psychiatric treatment. Patients' experiences in these situations are not well characterized. This systematic review of qualitative studies aims to describe the experiences of patients with schizophrenia and related disorders who have undergone legally mandated treatment.

Methods: Four bibliographic databases were searched: CINAHL Plus (1981-2019), EMBASE (1947-2019), MEDLINE (1946-2019), and PsycINFO (1806-2019). These databases were searched for keywords, text words, and medical subject headings related to schizophrenia, legally mandated treatment and patient experience. The reference lists of included studies and systematic reviews were also investigated. The identified titles and abstracts were reviewed for study inclusion. A thematic analysis was completed for the synthesis of positive and negative aspects of legally mandated treatment.

Results: A total of 4,008 citations were identified. Eighteen studies were included in the final synthesis. For the thematic analysis, results were collated under two broad themes; positive patient experiences and negative patient experiences. Patients were satisfied when their autonomy was respected, and dissatisfied when it was not. Patients often retrospectively recognized that their treatment was beneficial. Furthermore, negative aspects of the treatment included deficits in communication and a lack of information.

Conclusions: Intervention research has historically focused on clinical outcomes and the quantitative aspects of treatment. Thus, this study provides insight into the qualitative aspects of patients' experiences with legally mandated treatment. Recognizing these opinions and experiences can lead to better attitudes toward treatment for patients with schizophrenia and related psychiatric illnesses.

Keywords: involuntary treatment; qualitative; review; schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Coercion*
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Schizophrenia / therapy*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Treatment Adherence and Compliance / psychology*