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Mental capacity assessment: a descriptive, cross-sectional study of what doctors think, know and do

Penn, D; Lanceley, A; Petrie, A; Nicholls, J; (2020) Mental capacity assessment: a descriptive, cross-sectional study of what doctors think, know and do. Journal of Medical Ethics 10.1136/medethics-2019-105819. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) (2005) was enacted in 2007 in England and Wales, but the assessment of mental capacity still remains an area of professional concern. Doctors' compliance with legal and professional standards is inconsistent, but the reasons for poor compliance are not well understood. This preliminary study investigates doctors' experiences of and attitudes toward mental capacity assessment (MCAx). METHODS: This is a descriptive, cross-sectional study where a two-domain, study-specific structured questionnaire was developed, piloted and digitally disseminated to doctors at differing career stages employed in a large, multi-site National Health Service Trust in London over 4 months in 2018. Descriptive statistics and frequency tables adjusted for missing data were generated and secondary analysis was conducted. RESULTS: Participants (n=92) were predominantly UK trained (82%), female (58%) and between the ages of 30 and 44 years (45%). Less than half (45%) of the participants reported receiving formal MCAx training. Only one-third (32%) of the participants self-rated themselves as very competent (29%) or extremely competent (4%). Self-reported MCA confidence was significantly affected by career stage with Consultants with over 10 years of experience reporting lowest confidence (p=0.001). CONCLUSIONS: This study describes significant variation in practice by doctors and low self-confidence in the practice of MCAx. These results raise concerns that MCAx continues to be inconsistently performed by doctors despite appropriate awareness of the law and professional guidance on best practice.

Type: Article
Title: Mental capacity assessment: a descriptive, cross-sectional study of what doctors think, know and do
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2019-105819
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2019-105819
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: clinical ethics, decision-making, health personnel, law
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Eastman Dental Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Womens Cancer
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108281
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