How Does a Decision Aid Help People Decide Whether to Disclose a Mental Health Problem to Employers? Qualitative Interview Study

Francesca Lassman, Rosalind Claire Henderson, L. Dockery, S. Clement, J. Murray, O. Bonnington, Simone Farrelly, Graham Thornicroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background Decisions about whether to disclose mental health problems to employers are complex, with potential personal, employment and legal implications. Decision aids are evidence based tools, designed to help individuals make specific choices between treatment options. We previously developed a decision aid—Conceal Or ReveAL (CORAL)—to assist service users with decisions about disclosure to employers. As part of a mixed methods exploratory RCT, which demonstrated that the CORAL decision aid was effective in reducing decisional conflict, we aimed to explore its mechanism of action and to optimise the intervention for a future full scale trial. 

Methods In depth interviews were conducted with individuals receiving vocational support from a mental health trust and participating in the intervention arm of the pilot trial. Thematic analysis was conducted to identify the main themes relating to participants’ perceptions of the CORAL decision aid. 

Results Thirteen participants were interviewed and five main themes were identified: sense of self and values; sense of control; anticipation of disclosure; experience of disclosure; and mechanism of action of the decision aid. 

Conclusions Data from our 13 participants suggest that the CORAL decision aid acts on several dimensions of decisional conflict: clarifying the pros and cons of different choices; increasing knowledge; structuring the decision making process; and clarifying needs and values. The current study indicated that it would be most effective when delivered by a professional well versed in employment and mental health matters such as a vocational adviser. The need for employers and policymakers to reduce the negative impact of disclosure is also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Decision aid
  • Disclosure
  • Employment
  • Mental health
  • Qualitative


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