Coercion and empowerment in the treatment of individuals with serious mental illness: A preliminary investigation


Recently, treatment approaches for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) have sought to increase autonomy to prevent frequent hospitalizations. Two of these strategies are coercive treatment and empowerment. Both coercive treatment and empowerment attempt to increase an individual's freedom from illness as well as rehospitalization. In the literature coercion is viewed as a barrier to empowerment, yet the long-term goals of both approaches are similar. Thus, coercive treatment may not serve as a barrier to empowerment. This study is a preliminary investigation of the empirical relationship between and among coercion, functioning, and empowerment. Participants were recruited from treatment centers in Mississippi and were at varying stages of treatment including inpatient and outpatient (N = 64). Variables of interest were measured with the MacArthur Admissions Experience Survey, Brief Symptom Inventory, Multnomah Community Ability Scale, MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Treatment, and Empowerment Scale. In this sample, only functioning was predictive of empowerment, suggesting that empowerment is dependent on an individual's level of functioning. In addition, coercion may not necessarily disempower individuals with SMI. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.



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Psychological Services