Coercion in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa: Clinical, Demographic and Legal Implications
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
University of Canberra
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Mental Health Legal Centre
University of Sydney
Medicine and Law, Vol. 24, p. 1
Because of its high mortality and treatment resistence, clinicians sometimes invoke the law in aid of retaining their most acutely ill-patients in treatment or re-feeding programs. Depending on the jurisdiction, various lawsincluding mental health and adult guardianship lawshave been invoked to achieve this objective (Carney, Tait, Saunders, Touyz & Beumont, 2003). Until recently, little was known about the therapeutic impact of coercion on patients (Saunders, 2001, Carney & Saunders 2003), or the relative advantages of different avenues of coercion (Carney, Saunders, Tait, Touyz & Ingvarson 2004). Most obscure of all, however, has been our understanding of the factors influencing clinical decisions within specialist anorexia treatment units regarding which in-patients will be selected for coerced treatment. This paper reports legal and ethical implications of findings from analysis of data gathered from a major Australian specialist anorexia treatment facility over a period of nearly 5 years.
Keywords: Anorexia, regulation, coercion, ethics
JEL Classification: I12, K32
Date posted: January 10, 2005
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