Background Norwegian law and regulations regarding patient autonomy and the use of coercion are in conflict with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Oviedo Convention on several points. A new law concerning the use of coercion in Norwegian health services has been proposed. In this study we wanted to investigate the attitudes of the Norwegian lay populace with regards to some of these points of conflict. Methods An electronic questionnaire with 9 propositions about patient autonomy, the use of coercion, the role of next of kin, and equality of rights and regulations across somatic and mental health care was completed by 1617 Norwegian adults (response rate 8.5%). Results A majority of respondents support the patient’s right to refuse treatment and information in serious illness, that previously expressed treatment preferences should be respected, that next of kin’s right to information and authority in clinical decision-making should be strengthened, and that this kind of legal regulations should be equal across somatic and mental health care. Conclusions The findings in this study suggest that the opinions of the Norwegian lay populace are in conflict with the national law on several points relating to patient autonomy, the role of next of kin and use of coercive measures, and different legal regulation of somatic vs. mental health care. The study suggests that the populace is more in line with the CRPD, which supports equal rights across somatic and mental health care, and the Oviedo Convention, which does not allow for the same degree of strong paternalism regarding coercive measures as the current Norwegian law. This can be taken to support the recently proposed legislation on the use and limitation of coercion in Norwegian health services.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International