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Increase in coercive measures in psychiatric hospitals during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cite this dataset

Flammer, Erich (2022). Increase in coercive measures in psychiatric hospitals during the COVID-19 Pandemic [Dataset]. Dryad.


Objective: To examine whether the pandemic in 2020 caused changes in psychiatric hospital cases, the percentage of patients exposed to coercive interventions, and aggressive incidents.

Results: The number of cases in adult psychiatry decreased by 7.6% from 105,782 to 97,761. The percentage of involuntary cases increased from 12.3 to 14.1%, and the absolute number of coercive measures increased by 4.7% from 26,269 to 27,514. The percentage of cases exposed to any kind of coercive measure increased by 24.6% from 6.5 to 8.1%, and the median cumulative duration per affected case increased by 13.1% from 12.2 to 13.8 hrs, where seclusion increased more than mechanical restraint. The percentage of patients with aggressive incidents, collected in 10 hospitals, remained unchanged.

Conclusions: While voluntary cases decreased considerably during the pandemic, involuntary cases increased slightly. However, the increased percentage of patients exposed to coercion is not only due to a decreased percentage of voluntary patients, as the duration of coercive measures per case also increased. The changes that indicate deterioration in treatment quality were probably caused by the multitude of measures to manage the pandemic. The focus of attention and internal rules as well have shifted from prevention of coercion to prevention of infection.


We used the case registry for coercive measures of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, comprising case-related data on mechanical restraint, seclusion, physical restraint, and forced medication in each of the State’s 31 licensed hospitals treating adults, to compare data from 2019 and 2020. To ensure data privacy the data on coercion were anonymised and aggregated by evaluation office commissioned by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Integration of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The data on aggressive incidents were provided in anonymized and aggregated form by the commissioning department of the hospitals.

Usage notes

We used IBM® SPSS® Statistics Version 27, Microsoft® Excel® 2013, and  a free online calculator ( Lenhard W, Lenhard A. Computation of effect sizes. 2016 available from: Psychometrica. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.17823.92329). Open-source alternatives for SPSS is R (, an open-source for MS-Excel is LibreOffice Calc (


Ministry of Social Welfare and Integration of Baden-Wuerttemberg