Objective: Compulsory admission to a psychiatric hospital is associated with a three- to fourfold increase in the risk of another compulsory admission. Given the rising numbers of civil detentions in the Netherlands and other European countries, it is important to understand the mechanism behind this association. Our aim is to study the links between opinions about prior psychiatric treatment, insight, service engagement and the risk of (new) civil detentions. Methods: We took a random sample of 252 from the 2,682 patients consecutively coming into contact with two psychiatric emergency teams in Amsterdam between September 2004 and September 2006. We recorded sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, and information about prior involuntary admissions. We interviewed the patients using the Verona Service Satisfaction Scale (Verona-EU), the Birchwood Insight Scale and the Service Engagement Scale. During a two-year follow-up period we noted their use of mental health care facilities. Results: Patients with a satisfactory score on the Verona-EU had significantly lower odds for civil detentions during follow-up compared to patients with a dissatisfactory score on this scale (OR = 0.3). Level of insight did not influence the risk of detention during follow-up. Furthermore, of the 131 patients admitted involuntarily the year before, one-third looked back on their involuntary admission with unambiguous satisfaction. Conclusion: More satisfaction with prior treatment seems to reduce the risk of civil detention remarkably. Low levels of satisfaction seem to be mainly dependent on a history of previous involuntary admission. These findings seem to open up a new perspective for diminishing the risk of (new) civil detention by trying to enhance satisfaction with treatment, especially for patients under detention. © The Author(s) 2013.