SALUS (BMBF Research Group)

The ethics of coercion: Striking a balance between autonomy, well-being and security in psychiatric practice


SALUS is funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as an independent research group in the field of ethical, legal and social aspects of modern life sciences. The SALUS project is carried out in close cooperation with the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Preventive Medicine , LWL University Hospital, Ruhr University Bochum.

Grant number: 01GP1792

Duration: 2018-2024

Project Description:

The use of coercion in the treatment of persons with mental disorders is one of the major ethical controversies in psychiatry. The aim of SALUS is to determine whether considerations of well-being and security can justify coercive interventions and to investigate whether potential conflicts between autonomy, well-being and security can be prevented by considering the latter two values in the advance care planning process. To this end, we will

  • identify consequences of recent autonomy-enhancing policies for the well-being of service users and the security of third parties,
  • examine the attitudes of mental health professionals, service users and the general public toward coercion in psychiatry,
  • determine conditions under which coercive interventions can be morally justified,
  • improve psychiatric advance directives by including considerations of well-being and security in the advance care planning process, and
  • assess and evaluate the opportunities and challenges of self-binding directives.

The SALUS project takes a bottom-up approach in which conceptual and normative analyses are informed by and closely interlinked with qualitative and quantitative empirical research.