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Coercion and capacity to consent

What does the capacity to consent to treatment entail and what factors influence it? To date, most research has focussed on individual factors that impair capacity to consent to treatment, such as intelligence, cognitive capacity and symptoms of mental illness. In this presentation, I want to explore the social and interpersonal factors that influence capacity to consent. I discuss the complexity of individual and social interactions and discuss coercion in two forms; overt coercion such as is found in mental hospitals, and relational coercion, arising from dependency needs [1].


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    Adshead G: A different voice in psychiatric ethics. Health Care Ethics and Human Values. Edited by: Fulford KWM, Dickenson D, Muray TH. 2002, Oxford: Blackwell, 56-62.

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Correspondence to Gwen Adshead.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Adshead, G. Coercion and capacity to consent. BMC Psychiatry 7, S30 (2007).

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  • Public Health
  • Mental Illness
  • Social Interaction
  • Individual Factor
  • Cognitive Capacity