Enhancing Clients' Communication Regarding Goals for Using Psychiatric Medications

Psychiatr Serv. 2017 Aug 1;68(8):771-775. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201600418. Epub 2017 Apr 3.


Objective: Discordance between psychiatric care providers' and clients' goals for medication treatment is prevalent and is a barrier to person-centered care. Power statements-short self-advocacy statements prepared by clients in response to a two-part template-offer a novel approach to help clients clarify and communicate their personal goals for using psychiatric medications. This study described the power statement method and examined a sample of power statements to understand clients' goals for medication treatment.

Methods: More than 17,000 adults with serious mental illness at 69 public mental health clinics had the option to develop power statements by using a Web application located in the clinic waiting areas. A database query determined the percentage of clients who entered power statements into the Web application. The authors examined textual data from a random sample of 300 power statements by using content analysis.

Results: Nearly 14,000 (79%) clients developed power statements. Of the 277 statements in the sample deemed appropriate for content analysis, 272 statements had responses to the first part of the template and 230 had responses to the second part. Clients wanted psychiatric medications to help control symptoms in the service of improving functioning. Common goals for taking psychiatric medications (N=230 statements) were to enhance relationships (51%), well-being (32%), self-sufficiency (23%), employment (19%), hobbies (15%), and self-improvement (10%).

Conclusions: People with serious mental illness typically viewed medications as a means to pursue meaningful life goals. Power statements appear to be a simple and scalable technique to enhance clients' communication of their goals for psychiatric medication treatment.

Keywords: Psychopharmacology/psychosocial aspects, Recovery, psychotropic medication; computer decision support; qualitative study; recovery; shared decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Qualitative Research


  • Psychotropic Drugs