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Poverty, poor services, and compulsory psychiatric admission in England

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Background Compulsory admission is a central feature of psychiatric systems internationally but the factors determining its use within different legal systems are not understood. Numbers of compulsory psychiatric admissions vary widely between areas in England. We examined the hypothesis that variation in rates of detention is related to social deprivation and also to the functioning of local mental health services. Methods Rates of detention under sections 2 and 3 of the Mental Health Act (1983) in 1998/9 were obtained in 34 mental health sectors in eight Trusts in England. Measures of socio-economic deprivation and measures of service function were used to conduct an ecological analysis. Results Compulsory admission is associated with measures of deprivation but there is unexplained variation. The range in rates is higher than allowed for by the resource allocation formula. Some indicators of service quality are independently associated with rates of detention. Conclusions Variation in detention rates and its relation to service function need further explanation if the use of compulsion is to be reduced.

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Accepted: 8 March 2002

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Bindman, J., Tighe, J., Thornicroft, G. et al. Poverty, poor services, and compulsory psychiatric admission in England. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 37, 341–345 (2002).

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