Effect of Patients' Reasons for Refusing Treatment on Implementing Psychiatric Advance Directives


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Abstract

ObjectiveClinicians have raised concerns that psychiatric advance directives may be used to refuse all treatment. However, people writing psychiatric advance directives can explicitly state their reasoning underlying treatment decisions. This study examined whether patients' reasons for refusing treatment influenced clinician decision making about implementing psychiatric advance directives.MethodsA total of 597 mental health professionals completed a questionnaire that presented two scenarios: one in which the patient wrote a psychiatric advance directive refusing all medication because of paranoid delusions and one in which the patient wrote a psychiatric advance directive refusing all medication because of concerns about side effects.ResultsTwenty-two percent of clinicians reported that they would respect the former psychiatric advance directive, whereas 72% reported that they would respect the latter. After multivariate regression was used, the reason for treatment refusal remained the single significant predictor of clinicians' decision to honor a patient's psychiatric advance directive.ConclusionsResults show reasons for treatment refusal in psychiatric advance directives are likely to affect clinicians' decisions to implement the directives.

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