Clinical Ethics 12 (2):82-85 (2017)

Introduction Compulsory care is controversial, since respect for the patient’s autonomy is a standard requirement in health care. Many psychiatrists have experienced that patients with borderline personality syndrome sometimes demand compulsory care for themselves in order not to exert self-harm—like Ulysses contracts. The aim of this study was to examine the possible existence and extent of borderline personality syndrome-patient demands for Ulysses contracts regarding compulsory care in acute psychiatry, and how external influences and demands could affect the caregivers’ decisions about compulsory care. Method An anonymous questionnaire, with three questions with fixed answers, was distributed to 42 licensed medical doctors on call at the psychiatric emergency unit in the city of Stockholm. Thirty-three questionnaires were answered, giving a response rate of 79%. Results Ninety-four percent of the respondents recognized the phenomenon of borderline personality syndrome patients requesting compulsory care, 21% stated that this request had affected their clinical decision, and 55% had used compulsory care for other reasons than the patient’s best interest. Discussion The results indicate that compulsory care is sometimes given in the form of Ulysses contracts for borderline personality syndrome patients. Also, compulsory care is sometimes used for other reasons than the borderline personality syndrome patient’s best interest. Psychological mechanisms affect the decisions of both patients and caregivers. More research should be done concerning to whom, why, and with what consequences compulsory care is prescribed.
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DOI 10.1177/1477750916682623
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