Shared decision making: People with severe mental illness experiences of involvement in the care of their physical health
C Ehrlich, P Dannapel
Abstract: Addressing the poor physical health of people with severe mental illness (SMI) occurs within a complex mix of individual requirements. People with SMI often have demanding health and illness management workloads, which they are required to perform on a daily basis. Most clinical studies lack information on how much people are affected by the side effects they experience and how to manage these problems. Mental health staff often consider that their primary target is to reduce psychotic symptoms rather than health promotion. Therefore, the objective of this qualitative study was to describe the current experience of people with SMI, with the view to exploring ways that they might be involved in managing their physical health. Thirty-two people with lived experience of mental illness within a defined geographic area in Queensland, Australia, participated in semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Data were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using qualitative content analysis. Four key areas in which people with SMI were able to be involved in their health were identified: care continuity within a fragmented care system; medication management; credibility and being mastered; and self-mastery and self-managing health. Shared decision making in mental health care can contribute to equality, control and recovery. Involving people with SMI in shared decision making will contribute positively to their overall health. However, substantial changes are required to shift the health system from a traditional “health professional as expert” approach to one with the patients in the centre.