This study examined the relationship between external elements of coercion and patients' perceived need for treatment.
The study interviewed mentally ill parolees (N=97) mandated into outpatient treatment as a condition of parole. Patients were asked to respond to the Perceived Coercion Scale, which included two items designed to assess perceived treatment need. Those patients reporting little or no control over coming to treatment had uniformly positive responses to questions, with 87.5 percent reporting that they needed to come to the clinic, 91.7 percent reporting that they needed to be in the clinic now, and 100 percent reporting that they planned to continue taking their medications after they were discharged from parole, i.e., in the absence of legal pressure. The study claims that these findings are an important reminder that the criminal justice system often is a link to treatment rather than merely a source of coercion for those who would not seek services on their own. The study concludes that coerced patients are not necessarily unwilling patients, and suggests that future research must take into account the complexity and interaction between perceived coercion and perceived need for treatment. Tables, note, references