Service user, whānau and peer support workers' perceptions of advance directives for mental health

Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2019 Dec;28(6):1296-1305. doi: 10.1111/inm.12637. Epub 2019 Jul 30.


Advance directives allow users of mental health services to make statements for their future care. In New Zealand, use of advance directives is supported by the Health and Disability Commissioner and was identified in the 2012 Blueprint as a key mechanism for service users to advocate for responses they find most helpful. This study used a qualitative descriptive methodology involving focus groups to explore the perceptions of service users, whānau and peer support workers concerning advance directives. Thematic analysis revealed certain belief patterns about what should or could be included in an advance directive, and about how and with whom one should be created. It revealed generally positive perceptions about how they can uphold service users' right to have preferences considered, to plan flexibly around dynamic needs, and about their value and utility. We conclude that advance directives can support services users' expressions of their preferences for care, but they need to be supported by clinicians if they are to realize this potential. Our findings can also inform service provision in New Zealand, and the planned reform of mental health legislation.

Keywords: advance directive; care planning; human rights; mental health; preferences; recovery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advance Directives* / psychology
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Peer Group
  • Young Adult

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