The Use of Pasung for People with Mental Illness: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis

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Background: Pasung is the term used in Indonesia and a number of other countries for seclusion and restraint of people with mental illness in the community, usually at home by their family. While pasung has been banned because it is contrary to human rights, its practice continues to exist within the community, particularly where community mental health services are limited, and in the absence of adequate social support, and pervasive negatives beliefs about mental illness. It is essential to understand the reasons for the ongoing use of pasung and to examine potential solutions.
Methods: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of peer-reviewed international literature was conducted to identify the socio-cultural contexts for pasung use, and interventions to address it. The analysis draws on the socioecological framework, which focused on relationships between the individual and their environment.
Result: Fifty published articles were included in the review; all studies were conducted in Asia and Africa, with 32 undertaken in Indonesia. Most studies were qualitative (n = 21). Others included one case–control study, one cross sectional study, and seven surveys; only four studies examined the application of an intervention, and each used a pre and post methodology. Of these, two studies tested psychoeducational interventions which aimed to overcome family burden due to pasung, and each suggested a community mental health approach. The remaining two studies evaluated the intervention of ‘unlocking’; one study used a community-based culturally sensitive approach, and the other used a community-based rehabilitation program. Reasons for pasung given by family appear to be as a last resort and in the absence of other supports to help them care for the person with severe mental illness.
Conclusion: The findings highlight that a mixture of individual, interpersonal, community and policy interventions are needed to reduce the use of pasung. While consumer and carer involvement as part of a socio-ecological approach is understood to be effective in reducing pasung, an understanding of how to elaborate this in the management of pasung remains elusive.
Original languageEnglish
Article number90
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Community mental health
  • Human rights
  • Lived experience
  • Narrative synthesis
  • Pasung
  • Restraint
  • Systematic review


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