Regaining ownership and restoring belongingness: impact of family group conferences in coercive psychiatry

Document Type

Journal Article




School of Nursing and Midwifery




Meijer, E., Schout, G., de Jong, G., & Abma, T. (2017). Regaining ownership and restoring belongingness: impact of family group conferences in coercive psychiatry. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 73(8) 1862-1872 Available here


Aim: This study examined the impact of family group conferences on coercive treatment in adult psychiatry.

Background: Coercive treatment in psychiatry infringes the fundamental rights of clients, including the right to control their lives. A promising intervention is the family group conferences, which has the potential to prevent crises through the integration of the expertise of informal and professional networks.

Design: A responsive evaluation, including qualitative and quantitative methods, was deployed to study the process leading up to the FGC, the proceedings and the impact of the conference.

Method: From 2013–2015, 41 family group conferences were studied in three regions in the Netherlands. The impact of every conference was examined with scales (ranging from 0–10) during interviews with attendees (clients, family members, friends, mental health professionals and family group conferences coordinators) who reflected on three outcome measures: belongingness, ownership and coercion.

Results: After the family group conferences, respondents indicated a slight reduction in their experience of coercive treatment. They also mentioned an increase in ownership and belongingness.

Conclusion: Family group conferences seems a promising intervention to reduce coercion in psychiatry. It helps to regain ownership and restores belongingness. If mental health professionals take a more active role in the pursuit of a family group conferences and reinforce the plans with their expertise, they can strengthen the impact even further.



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