Kate Ross


This project looks at the experience of being sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act for acute psychiatric patients. The view is taken that sectioning in itself is a major intervention and hence should be the subject of research scrutiny. The views of two groups of participants, sectioned and informal inpatients, are compared using a variety of survey techniques including standardised questionnaires, structured interviews and open ended questions. It was found that being sectioned did not have a major impact on patients' experience of hospital treatment or their understandings of mental health issues although the sectioned patients did place less value on the medical aspects of their care and some sectioned patients showed a degree of internality for their health care that was not present in the informal group. Locus of control and transactional analysis were both found to be useful theoretical perspectives from which to examine patients' experiences. In general, the psychiatric patients who participated in the project valued the human contacts they made in hospital far more than their medical treatment. They also tended to attribute the cause of their psychiatric difficulties to non-medically based models of mental health based on childhood experiences, life events, human relationships and stress.

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