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Mental health care, ethics and coercion (completed)

The project aims to gather more knowledge about ethical challenges, and how best to handle these, with its main focus on the use of coercion in mental health care in hospital trusts. Parts of the project will also include mental health care provided by the municipal governments, and the treatment of addiction.


Health care providers face many ethical challenges – i.e. situations where there is doubt or disagreement over which course of action is right. Some of the most important ethical challenges in mental health care are tied to the use of coercion, and to how patient and next of kin can participate in important decisions in a proper way. How ethical challenges are dealt with is likely to influence the quality of health care provided.

However, systematic research into the most important ethical challenges in mental health care, and how best to deal with these challenges, has not been done in Norway. In addition, possible measures to better deal with such challenges (such as clinical ethics committees, reflection groups, value-forums, and various ways to increase ethics competency) have been in limited use in mental health care.

The project will among other things contribute to more knowledge about ethical challenges that care providers experience in relation to patient participation in clinical decisions and coercion, better understanding of patients’ and next of kin’s perspectives on patient autonomy and coercion, knowledge of how to secure better decision making along with reduced and proper use of coercion, and knowledge about how to secure adequate handling of ethical challenges in practice.


The purpose of the project is to strengthen ethical reflection in mental health care by:

  • Summarizing and developing knowledge about
    • ethical challenges, focusing especially on the patient’s participation in clinical decisions and use of coercion
    • how such challenges best can be met
  • Exploring patients’, next of kin’s, and employees’ view of patient participation and use of coercion.
  • Establishing, continuing to develop, and evaluating arenas of ethical reflection in the workplace (for instance reflection groups and clinical ethics committees).  This work will be based on relevant experiences from the Netherlands and from Norwegian health care, among other things.
  • Developing educational resources on how to deal with ethical challenges in mental health care.


The Norwegian Directorate of Health

Start - finish

2011 - 2015  

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Published Nov. 5, 2015 4:05 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2020 9:32 AM