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The involuntary psychiatric treatment and child welfare placements in Finland 1996–2003: a nationwide register study

  • Ulla Siponen1,
  • Maritta Välimäki1,
  • Matti Kaivosoja2,
  • Mauri Marttunen3 and
  • Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino4
BMC Psychiatry20077(Suppl 1):S128

Published: 19 December 2007


Mental Health ProblemBehavioral ProblemChild WelfareInpatient TreatmentDischarge Register


Emotional and behavioral problems are common in young people and mental health problems are frequently intertwined with social problems. Both involuntary psychiatric treatment and taking into care may be used in order to manage youth behavioral problems. Compulsory interventions always endanger violating basic civil rights and therefore careful monitoring of them is warranted. The objective of this study was to evaluate trends in Finland in involuntary psychiatric inpatient treatment and taking into care 12 – 17-year-old adolescents from the year 1996 to the year 2003.


A nationally representative retrospective register study of the period 1996 – 2003 using the hospital discharge register and child welfare register in Finland.


The results showed that both types of compulsory interventions increased vastly during the study period. The numbers of involuntary psychiatric treatment periods and child welfare placements of adolescents varied considerably in relation to each other, and across different regions of the country.


As there is no evidence of a vast increase in mental disorders or serious behavioral problems in young people, there is an obvious need for further research on reasons of the significant increase in the use of coercion and for the wide regional variation. Possible explanations discussed are different service structures and treatment cultures.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, University of Turku, Finland
Keski-Pohjanmaa Hospital District, Kokkola, Finland
Department of Psychiatry, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland
Department of Adolescent Psychiatry, Tampere University Hospital, Pitkäniemi Tampere, Finland


© Siponen et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2007

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.