The relationship between patient and therapist in mental health care is one of the most important treatment factors. It is a reliable predictor of treatment outcome, regardless of diagnosis, setting or of the type of therapy used. On the other hand, influence and coercion occur in patient–physician relationships in psychiatry. We investigated the associations between patients' perceived coercion and the therapeutic relationship.
A total of 116 psychiatric patients, who have been admitted to the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, were interviewed using a structured interview. Data were collected by using Scale To Assess the Therapeutic Relationship (STAR) (therapeutic relationship) and Mac Arthur Admission Experience Survey (AES) (perceived coercion). Associations were investigated using bivariate and multivariate methods.
Perceived coercion predicts the patients' appraisal of the therapeutic relationship. We found a moderate relation between the patients' and the clinicians' view of their relationship. Perceived coercion is related to a higher symptom level and a lower level of global functioning at admission, and higher perceived coercion is related to a more negative patient–therapist relationship rated by the patient.
Perceived loss of autonomy goes hand in hand with a more negative relationship between the patient and the clinician. This phenomenon has to be impeded, regarding the unambiguous impact relationship quality has on treatment outcome.