Swedish penal law does not exculpate on the grounds of diminished accountability; persons judged to suffer from severe mental disorder are sentenced to forensic psychiatric care instead of prison. Re-introduction of accountability as a condition for legal responsibility has been advocated, not least by forensic psychiatric professionals. To investigate how professionals in forensic psychiatry would assess degree of accountability based on psychiatric diagnoses and case vignettes, 30 psychiatrists, 30 psychologists, 45 nurses, and 45 ward attendants from five forensic psychiatric clinics were interviewed. They were asked (i) to judge to which degree (on a dimensional scale from 1 to 5) each of 12 psychiatric diagnoses might affect accountability, (ii) to assess accountability from five case vignettes, and (iii) to list further factors they regarded as relevant for their assessment of accountability. All informants accepted to provide a dimensional assessment of accountability on this basis and consistently found most types of mental disorders to reduce accountability, especially psychotic disorders and dementia. Other factors thought to be relevant were substance abuse, social network, personality traits, social stress, and level of education.
The 1990s witnessed Supreme Court decisions in both Canada and the United States on issues of competence that went against longstanding case law, psychological research, and common sense. These decisions held that there is to be one standard for all types of criminal competencies. The present research attempts to investigate whether this is an appropriate assumption and thus tests whether there are one or more constructs that underlie different types of competence. Two divergent types of competence were examined, competence to stand trial (both Canadian and American conceptualizations) and competence to consent to treatment, to determine if these different types of competence share a common underlying construct. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test this question and results indicate that there is a common construct that underlies different types of competence.
Anorexia nervosa is a mental health disorder typical for adolescent girls and young adults. The clinical picture is often characterized by distorted body image and intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat in spite of actual underweight. It is associated with severe disturbance of psychological, physical and social functioning. When the patient strongly resist all weight gaining measures clinicians may have to consider the possibility of involuntary treatment. In the Finnish Mental Health Act there are different definitions for involuntary treatment in adults as compared with under-aged patients. In adults the core question is whether anorexia nervosa can be defined as a psychotic disorder or not. The present review also summarizes literature concerning benefits and disadvantages of involuntary treatment in these patients.
Some literature suggests that compulsory community treatment orders (CTOs) are effective in reducing hospitalizations in a subgroup of psychiatric patients with histories of repeated hospitalization, allowing them to be treated in the community under less restrictive measures. However, studies have yielded contradictory findings, in part because of methodological differences. Our study examines the effectiveness of CTOs in reducing hospitalizations and increasing community tenure of such patients.
The sample included all psychiatric patients who had been given a CTO during a 9-year period at 2 of McGill University's hospitals. This is a naturalistic, observational, retrospective, before-and-after study where patients acted as their own control subjects. We examined variables, including the number, duration, and time to psychiatric admissions, comparing 4 time periods: early, pre-index, index (when the first CTO was in force), and post-index periods. The total study duration per subject encompasses the longest period of observation within existing studies in Canada.
Psychiatric patients with histories of frequent readmissions demonstrated a significant reduction in their number of hospitalizations as well as an increase in the median time to re-hospitalization, during the period when they were treated under a CTO. This effect of CTO was sustained even after the CTO had expired.
Our study suggests that CTOs are effective in assisting psychiatric patients with histories of repeated hospitalizations to live and be treated in the community, diminishing the occurrence of frequent hospitalization.
An assessment of risk management systems for patients on Warrants of the Lieutenant Governor in the provincial psychiatric hospitals was conducted. The assessment revealed that, to date, with some exceptions, the system has coped reasonably well. However, with a present count of over 400, and the ever increasing number of patients on warrants, there is a pressing need to improve the overall coordination of the system. The numbers, types and location of beds required to serve the system must be reviewed. Staff needs and training must be addressed. Increased numbers of coordinated research studies and improved information systems are required. System-wide policies and procedures for releasing information to policy, employers and home operators are necessary. As well, there must be a consistent approach in dealing with potential abuse of alcohol and non-prescribed drugs. Systems for authorizing and documenting patient privileges can be improved in some hospitals. A set of guidelines for interpreting terms and conditions of warrants is necessary. Lastly, information for staff treating patients on warrants should be developed and distributed.
This study examines the attitudes toward committal of patients admitted to a psychiatric facility for the first time. Sixteen patients, from a group of 28 patients consecutively admitted to hospital on an Ontario Form 1 certificate were able to complete a satisfactory interview. In general, patients viewed the committal procedure favourably. They endorsed medical professionals as being best qualified to institute the committal procedure. A discrepancy between behaviour documented on the committal form and the patients' own perception of their mental state at the time of committal was noted. These findings are discussed with reference to previous research on civil commitment.
In this article, the author examines the impact of judicial intervention of individuals with mental illness on family members. The author subunits the hypothesis that an offer of more diversified services could reduce legal intervention of these individuals and consequently attenuate the devastating effects on family members. According to the families' equation, the more services will be developed and adapted, the less frequent family will have to call upon the legal system to intervene and fewer individuals with mental illness will find themselves behind bars.
This paper addresses the principles underlying compulsory community treatment (CCT) and discusses the different provisions in Canada's twelve jurisdictions. Comparisons with different models of CCT in other countries are also drawn. CCT is not only intended to reduce relapses it is also a "least restrictive" alternative to in-patient detention. Seven of the twelve Canadian mental health acts allow conditional leave from hospital. Two jurisdictions provide community treatment orders, but require two or three previous in-patient admissions. Criteria for CCT, in most jurisdictions, includes that there is a "likelihood of significant mental or physical deterioration". The requirement for previous hospitalization for CCT in Canada, unlike other countries, precludes CCT for use with first episode patients. Some jurisdictions require consent for CCT. Most jurisdictions explicitly state that the services necessary for the CCT conditions must be available.
To systematically survey Alberta psychiatrists and lawyers regarding their knowledge of, attitudes toward, and experiences with the Criminal Code provisions regarding mentally disordered offenders to better understand the lack of impact in practice patterns.
A survey design was used, and 2 questionnaires, 1 for lawyers and 1 for psychiatrists, were developed and mailed out.
Out of 245 surveys sent to psychiatrists, 141 were returned, giving a response rate of 57%. The number of lawyers practising criminal law could not be determined, and 5273 surveys were sent to all lawyers on the Law Society of Alberta mailing list. Of these, 564 were returned, giving an overall response rate of 11%. The response rate for lawyers practising criminal law is unknown. Overall, lawyers were younger than psychiatrists. Most of the respondents in both groups were men. Overall, attitudes toward offenders with mental illness were very similar among lawyers and psychiatrists. Compared with lawyers, psychiatrists had significantly more correct responses to the items assessing knowledge. With a highest possible knowledge score of 27, the average score was 16 (SD 5.7) for psychiatrists and 13 (SD 7.23) for lawyers.
The lack of familiarity with many of the key provisions among psychiatrists and lawyers is worrisome and suggests the need for educational materials to improve knowledge of the Criminal Code provisions governing mentally disordered offenders.