Understanding the personal and clinical utility of psychiatric advance directives: a qualitative perspective.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Psychiatric advance directives (PADs) are legal tools that allow competent individuals to declare preferences for future mental health treatment when they may not be capable of doing so as a result of a psychiatric crisis. PADs allow individuals to maintain self-determination during times when they are most vulnerable to loss of autonomy and in need of assistance to make their preferences known and honored. This article describes the content of twenty-eight open-ended, semi-structured qualitative interviews of adults with PADs who have experienced psychiatric crises. The qualitative analysis revealed three major themes from the interviews: (1) PADs as tools for empowerment and self-determination, (2) limited knowledge of PADs among service providers; and (3) difficulties communicating PADs to inpatient staff. In general, many participants expressed enthusiasm of the implementation of PADs but concern regarding clinicians' general lack of awareness about them. Additionally, some consumers discussed discomfort in even mentioning that they had a PAD to clinicians for fear of a negative response from them, or some type of involuntary treatment during their hospitalization. However, participants consistently viewed PADs as a positive tool to promote autonomy with the potential to facilitate stronger patient-provider relationships. Therefore, when working with individuals in psychiatric crisis who have a PAD, and who have never before experienced a sense of control over their own treatment, clinicians must recognize the potential troubling disequilibrium this sense of control may engender. In sum, though the most significant challenges facing the implementation of PADs involve clinicians' familiarity with and education about PADs, much promise for the future growth of PADs lies in the benefits perceived by the patients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kim, MM; Van Dorn, RA; Scheyett, AM; Elbogen, EE; Swanson, JW; Swartz, MS; McDaniel, LA

Published Date

  • 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 70 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 19 - 29

PubMed ID

  • 17492909

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-2747

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1521/psyc.2007.70.1.19


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States