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18 - Mind the Gap: Researching ‘Alternatives to Coercion’ in Mental Health Care

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 August 2021

Michael Ashley Stein
Harvard Law School
Faraaz Mahomed
Wits University
Vikram Patel
Harvard Medical School
Charlene Sunkel
Global Mental Health Peer Network
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Globally, there is a surprisingly small amount of empirical research into efforts to reduce and prevent ‘coercion’ in mental health settings. Indeed, there is a paucity of empirical evaluation of coercion in mental healthcare more generally. These gaps hamper efforts to create rights-based models of support. This chapter considers the evidential issues around coercion in relation to major debates about legal capacity, mental health and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It examines the prevalent norms of knowledge concerning coercion, including underlying traditions and assumptions, and what is considered ethically desirable. The chapter concludes by recommending more research on reduction and prevention of coercion as a practical and unifying step, but with careful consideration of the epistemic and evidentiary cultures guiding the research.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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