Background: The 'risk criterion' for involuntary admission (IA) has been adopted by Mental Health Law of the People's Republic of China since 2013. How the new legal regulation influences daily practices in psychiatric institutes are still unclear.
Aims: The present study sought to explore the application of risk criterion in IA cases; especially risk assessed by psychiatrists at admission and its influencing factors.
Method: Socio-demographic and clinical data including risk assessment for admission of 3,529 involuntary admitted patients from two typical hospitals in Shanghai from 2013 to 2014 were consecutively collected. Personal information of psychiatrists who made admission assessment was collected separately.
Results: Among the 3,529 cases, 1,890 (53.6%) were admitted because of actual harmful behaviors to self or others, while 1,639 (46.4%) were admitted with some kinds of risk, but 265 (7.5%) were admitted without any records on risk assessment checklists. Patients who were unemployed, of younger age, single status, diagnosed with schizophrenia were more likely to be admitted without any records on the checklist. Male gender, older age, and lower professional title are influencing factors that psychiatrists made no risk assessment records.
Conclusions: The vast majority (92.5%) of risk assessment in IA patients were qualified in our study. In order to protect the legal rights of patients better, operational and reasonable procedures of risk assessment should be developed, such include more detailed rules to IA, systematic training of psychiatrists on IA assessment, mechanism improving doctor-patient relationship, and alternative mental health services for patients and so on.
Keywords: Involuntary admission; mental disorders; patients; psychiatrists; risk assessment; the Mental Health Law of the People’s Republic of China.