TittelIncreased autonomy with capacity‑based mental health legislation in Norway: a qualitative study of patient experiences of having come off a community treatment order
PublikasjonstypeFagfellevurderte artikler
År for utgivelse2022
ForfattereWergeland, NC, Fause, Å, Weber, AKarine, Fause, ABeatrix Os, Riley, H
JournalBMC Health Services Research (Open Access)
Date Published04/2022
NøkkelordAutonomi, lov, lovendring, pasientopplevelse, Samtykke, Samtykkekompetanse

Background: Capacity-based mental health legislation was introduced in Norway on 1 September 2017. The aim was to increase the autonomy of patients with severe mental illness and to bring mental health care in line with human rights. The aim of this study is to explore patient experiences of how far the new legislation has enabled them to be involved in decisions on their treatment after they were assessed as capable of giving consent and had their community treatment order (CTO) revoked due to the change in the legislation.

Method: Individual in-depth interviews were conducted from September 2019 to March 2020 with twelve people with experience as CTO patients. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis inspired by hermeneutics.

Results: Almost all interviewees were receiving the same health care over two years after their CTO was terminated. Following the new legislation, they found it easier to be involved in treatment decisions when off a CTO than they had done in periods without a CTO before the amendment. Being assessed as having capacity to consent had enhanced their autonomy, their dialogues and their feeling of being respected in encounters with health care personnel. However, several participants felt insecure in such encounters and some still felt passive and lacking in initiative due to their previous experiences of coercion. They were worried about becoming acutely ill and again being subjected to involuntary treatment.

Conclusion: The introduction of capacity-based mental health legislation seems to have fulfilled the intention that treatment and care should, as far as possible, be provided in accordance with patients' wishes. Systematic assessment of capacity to consent seems to increase the focus on patients' condition, level of functioning and opinions in care and treatment. Stricter requirements for health care providers to find solutions in cooperation with patients seem to lead to new forms of collaboration between patients and health care personnel, where patients have become more active participants in their own treatment and receive help to make more informed choices.

Keywords: Autonomy; Capacity to consent; Coercion; Community treatment order; Outpatient commitment; Patient experiences; Self-determination; The Mental Health Care Act.


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