A survey of preferred terms for users of mental health services

Psychiatr Serv. 1996 Jul;47(7):760-1. doi: 10.1176/ps.47.7.760.


To determine how users of mental health services would like to be addressed by professionals, a survey of 302 persons participating in a variety of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric programs was conducted. Forty-five percent of the sample preferred the term "client," 20 percent preferred the term "patient," 8 percent preferred the term "consumer," and 27 percent either expressed no clear preference for one term or provided another term. The results suggest that no one term is favored by users of mental health services. Professionals and persons receiving mental health services are encouraged to talk over individual preferences to help establish a working alliance.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Semantics*
  • United States