Coercion in nursing homes

Nursing Ethics 23 (3):253-264 (2016)
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Background: Studies have demonstrated the extensive use of coercion in Norwegian nursing homes, which represents ethical, professional as well as legal challenges to the staff. We have, however, limited knowledge of the experiences and views of nursing home patients and their relatives. Objectives: The aim of this study is to explore the perspectives of nursing home patients and next of kin on the use of coercion; are there situations where the use of coercion can be defended, and if so, under which circumstances? Methods: The data are based on individual interviews with 35 patients living in six nursing homes and seven focus group interviews with 60 relatives. Ethical considerations: Participation was based on written informed consent, and the study was approved by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics. Results: More than half of the patients and the majority of the relatives accepted the use of coercion, trusting the staff to act in the patient’s best interest. However, the acceptance of coercion is strongly related to the patients’ lack of understanding, to prevent health risks and to preserve the patient’s dignity. Conclusion: The majority of nursing home patients and relatives accepted the use of coercion in specific situations, while at the same time they emphasised the need to try alternative strategies first. There is still a need for good qualitative research on the use of coercion in nursing homes, especially with a closer focus on the perspectives and experiences of nursing home patients.



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