Public attitudes towards involuntary admission and treatment by mental health services in Norway

Inge Joa*, Kjetil Hustoft, Liss Gøril Anda, Kolbjørn Brønnick, Olav Nielssen, Jan Olav Johannessen, Johannes H. Langeveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The role of compulsory treatment of serious mental disorders has been the topic of ongoing public debate involving among others mental health professionals, service providers, service user advocates, relatives of service users, media commentators and politicians. However, relatively little is known about general public attitudes towards involuntary admission and compulsory treatment of people with various mental disorders. This article examines the attitudes in a representative sample of Norway's population towards the use of involuntary admission and treatment, and under which circumstances does the general public consider compulsory treatment to be justified in the Norwegian mental health care services. Method: Data were collected from a representative sample of the population in Norway aged 18 and older. The sample was stratified for gender, geographical region and age distribution (n = 2001). The survey was performed in the months of May 2009 (n = 1000) and May 2011 (n = 1001), using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) by an independent polling company. All respondents were provided a general definition of coercive intervention before the interview was conducted. Analysis: Univariate descriptions and bivariate analyses were performed by means of cross-tabulation, analysis of variance (one-way ANOVA) and comparing of group of means. Cohen's d was used as the measure for effect size. Results Between 87% and 97% of those surveyed expressed strong or partial agreement with the use of involuntary admissions or compulsory treatment related to specified cases and situations. The majority of interviewees (56%) expressed the opinion that overall, current levels are acceptable. A further, 34% were of the opinion that current levels are too low, while only 9.9% of respondents supported a reduction in the level of involuntary treatment. Lower levels of education were associated with a more positive attitude towards involuntary admission and treatment. There was stronger support for admission to prevent suicide than the possibility of violence by the mentally ill. Conclusion: The Norwegian adult population largely supports current legislation and practices regarding involuntary admission and compulsory treatment in the mental health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • psychiatry
  • involuntary hospitalization
  • public opinion
  • coercion

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