Assessment of Healthcare Decision-making Capacity

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2016 Sep;31(6):530-40. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acw051. Epub 2016 Aug 22.


It is often necessary for neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, and other healthcare professionals to assess an individual's capacity to consent to treatment related to healthcare. This task can be challenging and requires a delicate balance of both respect for individuals' autonomy, as well as the protection of individuals with diminished capacity to make an autonomous decision. The purpose of the present review is to provide an overview of the conceptual model of decisional capacity as well as a brief summary of some of the currently available instruments designed to help evaluate medical decision making. In addition, current empirical literature on the relationship between neuropsychological abilities and decision-making capacity is discussed and a brief set of recommendations is provided to further aid clinicians or consultants when they are required to complete the ethically important but difficult task of making determinations about healthcare decision-making capacity.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Assessment; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Dementia* / psychology
  • Dementia* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Neuropsychological Tests