Foto: Alex Ivashenko / Unsplash

The complexity of coercion in child and adolescent psychiatry


The aim of the project is to provide new knowledge of the use of coercion in adolescent psychiatric wards in Norway.

Despite a strong professional and political focus on the treatment of children and adolescents with mental disorders, the use of coercion in adolescent psychiatry is an under explored field. The scarce Norwegian research that exists in the field shows that a small group of the admitted young people are exposed to a large part of the coercion used in the units.

With an increased focus on user participation and human rights, and growing evidence of the negative consequences of coercion used in psychiatric institutions, it is important to gain a nuanced understanding of coercion. It is especially pivotal to study how children and adolescents are exposed to coercion since this group of patients is particularly vulnerable to violations of their will, autonomy and integrity.

A main ambition in the study is to develop a holistic understanding of how coercion is used and experienced by combining social science, health science and legal perspectives. Such an interdisciplinary focus makes it possible to examine how coercion involves formal legislation and guidelines, treatment and control of unwanted behavior. The project will map the extent of coercion and the types of coercion used in adolescent psychiatric wards. The project will also investigate why and how coercion is used and experienced by both staff and patients. Among other things, we will carry out a longer ethnographic fieldwork in two selected units.

The project will produce new knowledge about coercion and its consequences for staff and patients. This will provide new perspectives on treatment in mental health care. The project will disseminate the results to a scientific audience, users, professionals and the general public. It is a key goal to increase public awareness of coercive practice in psychiatric units.

Financed by
The Reserach Council of Norway
Project lead
Time period
Project staff
Senior Researcher
Research Professor
In cooperation with
Høgskulen på Vestlandet
UiT - Norges arktiske universitet
Københavns professionshøjskole
Mental Helse Ungdom