This study evaluated preferences for shared decision making with respect to mental health treatment in a sample of veterans who were diagnosed as having serious mental illness.
Participants were 239 outpatients receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs who completed self-report questionnaires assessing demographic factors, shared decision–making preferences, psychiatric symptom severity, and the therapeutic relationship with their second-generation antipsychotic prescribers (N=21). Preferences were assessed in regard to three components of decision making: knowledge about mental illness, options about mental health treatment, and decisions about mental health care.
Most participants (85%) indicated that they preferred to be offered options and to be asked their opinions about mental health treatment. More variability was noted in preferences for obtaining knowledge and making final treatment decisions; 61% preferred to rely on their providers’ knowledge and 64% preferred their provider to make treatment final decisions. Greater preferences for participation in shared decision making were found among African American clients, those currently working for pay, those with college or higher education, those with other than a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis, and those who reported a poorer therapeutic relationship with their prescribers.
The degree to which veterans with serious mental illness desired to participate in their mental health care differed in terms of the aspect of care and across demographic and clinical factors. A thorough assessment of shared decision–making preferences is an important component of recovery-oriented, client-centered care.