Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Philos Psychiatr Psychol. 2006 Dec;13(4):267-282.

Competence to make treatment decisions in anorexia nervosa: thinking processes and values.

Author information

Oxford Centre for Ethics and Communication in Health Care Practice (The Ethox Centre), Department of Public Health, Division of Medicine, University of Oxford; Honorary Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Oxfordshire Mental Healthcare NHS Trust.


This paper explores the ethical and conceptual implications of the findings from an empirical study of decision-making capacity in anorexia nervosa. In the study, ten female patients aged 13 to 21 years with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, and eight sets of parents, took part in semi-structured interviews. The purpose of the interviews was to identify aspects of thinking that might be relevant to the issue of competence to refuse treatment. All the patient participants were also tested using the MacCAT-T test of competence. This is a formalised, structured interviewer-administered test of competence, which is a widely accepted clinical tool for determining capacity. The young women also completed five brief self-administered questionnaires to assess their levels of psychopathology.The issues identified from the interviews are described under two headings: difficulties with thought processing, and changes in values. The results suggest that competence to refuse treatment may be compromised in people with anorexia nervosa in ways that are not captured by traditional legal approaches or current standardised tests of competence.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons


    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center