What is known on the subject?: Psychiatric patients have generally negative experiences of being exposed to coercive measures. Existing research has generally not investigated coercion as a process; that is, it does not address issues that arise before, during and after exposure to coercion. A part of existing research within the area does not clarify and define the type of coercive measure(s) investigated. What this paper adds to existing knowledge?: Patients place great significance on the link between the positive and negative perceived impact of a coercive situation and the professionals’ ability and willingness to interact and communicate respectfully. Psychiatric patients associate the use of seclusion, physical restraint/holding, mechanical restraint and forced medication with strong negative perceptions and wish to be treated with respect by professionals, rather than being subjected to the professionals’ control. What patients perceive as moderating factors in regard to the use of coercive measures is currently under-researched. What are the implications for practice?: Increased sensitivity to the patient's views of the situation at each point in the coercive process would help professionals to respond to the patients’ individual needs. Professionals need to articulate concern and empathy towards patients and to improve communication skills before, during and after a coercive incident. Greater emphasis should be placed on de-escalation and the use of non-coercive strategies or coping skills before the initiation of coercive measures. Abstract: Introduction There is a lack of research into psychiatric patients’ perceptions of coercion that discriminates between different types of coercive measures, while also investigating patients’ perceptions of undergoing coercion as a process. This knowledge is required to improve our understanding and provide a foundation for improving clinical practice. Aims To review existing research literature in order to investigate adult psychiatric patients’ reported perceptions of situations before, during and after specific and defined types of coercive measures, and to investigate what patients perceive as moderating factors, in regard to the use of these coercive measures. Method A systematic review and thematic analysis of 26 peer-reviewed studies was undertaken. Results The analysis identified six themes and additional subthemes, where “interactions with professionals” and “communication” were predominant themes across the timeline of coercion. Altogether, themes were associated with either “positive or negative patient-perceived impact.”. Implications for practice Increased sensitivity to patients’ views of the situation at each point in the process is desirable in order to respond to the patients’ individual needs. Professionals also need to articulate concern and empathy towards the patient and to improve communication skills before, during and after a coercive incident. Use of de-escalation and noncoercive strategies is required. Relevance statement Coercion within psychiatric/mental health care remains controversial, and repeated international calls have recommended a reduction of their use. This review indicates that greater attention to how patients perceive the use of coercive measures (before, during, and after incidents) needs to be considered in order to improve the evidence-based and clinical practice.