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Community treatment orders and care planning: How is engagement and decision-making enacted?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Suzanne Dawson, Eimear Muir-Cochrane, Alan Simpson, Sharon Lawn

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1859-1867
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number5
Early online date12 Aug 2021
Accepted/In press16 Jul 2021
E-pub ahead of print12 Aug 2021
PublishedOct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors acknowledge and thank consumers, families and staff from the Central Adelaide Local Health Network for their participation in the study. This research was conducted as part of a larger PhD project. There was no external funding. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Health Expectations published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


King's Authors


Background: In many jurisdictions worldwide, individuals with a mental illness may be forced to receive care and treatment in the community. In Australia, legislation states that such care should be driven by a care plan that is recovery-focussed. Key components in the care planning process include engagement and decision-making about a person's support needs and care options, with trust being an essential component of care planning relationships. Objective: This study examines how these components were enacted during service care contacts for individuals on community treatment orders. Methods: The study was located at two community mental health teams in South Australia. Ethnographic observations of care planning discussions between consumers, their carers and clinicians, and interviews with individuals from these groups, were conducted over 18 months. Carspecken's critical ethnography provided a rigorous means for examining the data to identify underlying cultural themes that were informing day-to-day care interactions. Results: Care planning was not occurring as it was intended, with service culture and structures impeding the development of trusting relationships. Clinicians striving to work collaboratively with consumers had to navigate a service bias and culture that emphasized a hierarchy of ‘knowing’, with consumers assumed to have less knowledge than clinicians. Conclusions: Services and clinicians can challenge prejudicial ethical injustice and counter this through testimonial justice and implementation of tools and approaches that support genuine shared decision-making. Patient or Public Contribution: This study included individuals with lived experience of mental illness, their carers and clinicians as participants and researchers.

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