The Consent and Capacity Board (CCB) of Ontario is an independent administrative tribunal that adjudicates on matters of consent to medical treatment including involuntary admission to a psychiatric facility and findings of incapacity with regard to treatment decisions. This study explores the perspectives of multiple stakeholders on procedural justice in CCB hearings in Ontario. Using purposeful and snowball sampling, participants including CCB panel members and staff, patients, and other professionals (e.g., lawyers, psychiatrists) were recruited from different sites across the city of Toronto. Using focus groups (n = 10) and individual interviews (n = 14), data were collected from 44 participants including 6 patients and 38 other stakeholders who have participated in CCB hearings. Using thematic analysis, we identified five themes - (i) Inclusiveness (ii) Respect (iii) Fairness (iv) Finding and using one's voice, and (v) Balancing interests. Findings revealed that despite efforts by CCB panel members to conduct hearings in an inclusive manner, the legalistic nature of the proceedings, as well as patients' uncertainty regarding the benefits of testifying, may be perceived as barriers to patients' meaningful participation. There was a general belief that patients are respected during CCB hearings by physicians and panel members; however, patients and their lawyers had mixed perceptions about this issue. Almost all stakeholders, excluding CCB panel members, perceived that CCB hearings were not procedurally fair. Our findings indicate that CCB hearings, as currently conducted, are not perceived as procedurally just by many of the relevant stakeholders. This perception may improve by adopting a more informal and less adversarial hearing format as well as enhancing patients' education and understanding of the CCB hearings' processes and potential outcomes.
Keywords: Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario; Consent to treatment; Decisional capacity; Mental health tribunal; Procedural justice; Qualitative research.
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