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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Oct;16(10):826-33. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e318181f992.

Preferences of older and younger adults with serious mental illness for involvement in decision-making in medical and psychiatric settings.

Author information

Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center Lebanon, Lebanon, NH 03766, USA. Erica.L.O'



There is a growing call for greater consumer participation in health care encounters. Prior research suggests that older age is associated with a greater preference for a more passive role in clinical decision-making, yet little is known about preferences for persons with mental illness. This pilot study compared preferences for involvement in decision-making between older and younger adults with serious mental illness.


Cross-sectional observational survey.


The authors surveyed 33 older adults (>or=50 years) and 32 younger adults (<50 years) with serious mental illness from two mental health center clinics and one residential facility for their preferences on decision-making with their psychiatrists and primary care providers.


Measures included the Control Preferences Scale, the Autonomy Preference Index, and the Decision Self-Efficacy Scale.


Contrary to our primary hypothesis, older adults reported a stronger desire for involvement in decision-making compared with younger adults. However, both age groups were similar in their desire for information to aid in decision-making. The majority in both age groups also preferred a collaborative role with a psychiatrist for medication decisions, an autonomous role for decisions related to psychosocial interventions, and a passive role with their primary care provider. Older and younger adults expressed similar decision self-efficacy.


Our study suggests that older persons with serious mental illness have a stronger desire for involvement in decision-making than younger consumers. Additionally, role preference for involvement in decision-making varies across different clinical decisions and for psychopharmacological versus psychosocial interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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