Use of coercion in mental healthcare services in Nigeria: Service providers' perspective

Deborah Oyine Aluh, Olaniyi Ayilara, Justus Uchenna Onu, Barbara Pedrosa, Manuela Silva, Ugnė Grigaitė, Margarida Santos-Dias, Graça Cardoso, José Miguel Caldas-de-Almeida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: There is increasing advocacy to reduce coercive practices in mental healthcare. Little research has been done on the topic in developing countries.

AIMS: To explore what mental health professionals in Nigeria think about coercion, why it is used, and what contextual factors influence its use in mental healthcare services.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 16 doctors and 14 nurses from two psychiatric hospitals in two regions of Nigeria. The audio-recorded interviews were analyzed thematically with the aid of MAXQDA software.

RESULTS: Three broad categories relating to the perception of, reasons for, and barriers/facilitators to the use of coercion were derived. Coercion was viewed as being for the best interests of patients, a means to an end, and effective for achieving desired outcomes. Safety was both a reason to use a coercive measure and a deterrent to using specific coercive measures thought to be unsafe. The socio-cultural context, obsolete mental health legislation, staff shortages, and attitudes were factors influencing the use of coercion in mental healthcare.

CONCLUSION: Coercion was perceived to be ultimately beneficial in mental health practice. There is need for a new mental health legislation and more resources for mental health care in Nigeria to address the problem of coercion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Early online date27 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • barriers and facilitators
  • Coercion
  • involuntary admission
  • mental health professionals
  • Nigeria
  • perceptions
  • restraint


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