Using a Hypothetical Scenario to Inform Psychiatric Advance Directives

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ObjectivesThe study addressed whether a hypothetical psychiatric scenario is a feasible approach for eliciting psychiatric treatment preferences and identified consumer preferences regarding involuntary care.MethodsCommunity-residing adults with serious mental illness (N=150) voluntarily completed the Health Care Preferences Questionnaire to determine treatment preferences in response to the use of psychiatric medications, seclusion and restraint, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). A vignette was used to determine preferences first with respect to an imaginary patient and then with respect to the respondent.ResultsFew participants were distressed by the psychiatric scenario (7%). In regard to their own care, in an emergency most participants supported the use of involuntary treatments (medications, 70%; medication injection, 76%; and seclusion and restraint, 73%), with the exception of ECT (quick treatment, 32%; if life is in danger, 60%). Participants were less likely to support treatments for themselves than for an imaginary patient. The majority (65%) identified specific medication preferences.ConclusionsScenarios about the state of medical and psychiatric health are a feasible method of identifying treatment preferences. They are well tolerated and may serve as a model for assisting persons with serious mental illness in considering difficult treatment decisions.

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