Professionals’ perspectives on factors within primary mental health services that can affect pathways to involuntary psychiatric admissions
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Reducing involuntary psychiatric admissions has been on the international human rights and health policy agenda for years. Despite the last decades’ shift towards more services for adults with severe mental illness being provided in the community, most research on how to reduce involuntary admissions has been conducted at secondary health care level. Research from the primary health care level is largely lacking. The aim of this study was to explore mental health professionals’ experiences with factors within primary mental health services that might increase the risk of involuntary psychiatric admissions of adults, and their views on how such admissions might be avoided. Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews with thirty-two mental health professionals from five Norwegian municipalities. Data were analysed according to the Systematic Text Condensation method. Results: Within primary mental health care professionals experienced that a number of factors could increase the risk of involuntary psychiatric admissions. Insufficient time and flexibility in long-term follow-up, limited resources, none or arbitrary use of crisis plans, lack of tailored housing, few employment opportunities, little diversity in activities offered, limited opportunities for voluntary admissions, inadequate collaboration between services and lack of competence were some of the factors mentioned to increase the risk of involuntary psychiatric admissions. Several suggestions on how involuntary psychiatric admissions might be avoided were put forward. Conclusions: Mental health professionals within primary mental health care experienced that their services might play an active part in preventing the use of involuntary psychiatric admissions, suggesting potential to facilitate a reduction by intervening at this service level. Health authorities’ incentives to reduce involuntary psychiatric admissions should to a greater extent incorporate the primary health care level. Further research is needed on effective interventions and comprehensive models adapted for this care level.