Utilizing evidence-based research in your practice ensures that your patients receive the most effective care possible. It is necessary for practitioners to review the research literature and identify therapeutic modalities that have been tested empirically and proven to more effective (as effective, or less effective) than others. By providing the information below, you will begin to build a library of EBP resources for your practice.

Criteria Value

Introduction that includes the aspect of treatment the selected article addresses:

Medication Management 1point

Summary of the article in your own words—500 words or less

(do not copy the abstract). 4points

Rate and grade the article using an evidence-based model. 1point

Use rating and grading to describe how the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner can

incorporate the findings in the article into practice. 2points

How has this article changed your perceptive/view of the treatment discussed? 1point

APA formatting for sentence structure, grammar, and reference citation. 1point

Total 10points

doi: 10.1111/hex.12392

Shared decision making for psychiatric medication management: beyond the micro-social

Nicola Morant PhD,* Emma Kaminskiy PhDt and Shulamit Ramon PhDt *Lecturer in Qualitative Mental Health Research, Division of Psychiatry, UCL, London, tLecturer Jn Psychology, Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge and tProfessor, Department of Education and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin

University, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence Nicola Morant PhD Division of Psychiatry UCL Maple House 149 Tottenham Court Road London WlT 7NF E-mail:

Accepted for publication 9 July 2015

Keywords: doctor-patient communication, mental health, patient involvement, psychiatric medication, psychiatry, shared decision making


Background Mental health care has lagged behind other health-care domains in developing and applying shared decision making (SOM) for treatment decisions. This is despite compatibilities with ideals of modern mental health care such as self-management and recovery- oriented practice, and growing policy-level interest. Psychiatric med- ication is a mainstay of mental health treatment, but there are known problems with prescribing practices, and service users report feeling uninvolved in medication decisions and concerned about adverse effects. SOM has potential to produce better tailoring of psychiatric medication to individuals’ needs.

Objectives This conceptual review argues that several aspects of mental health care that differ from other health-care contexts (e.g. forms of coercion, questions about service users’ insight and disem- powerment) may impact on processes and possibilities for SOM. It is therefore problematic to uncritically import models of SOM devel- oped in other health-care contexts. We argue that decision making for psychiatric medication is better understood in a broader way that moves beyond the micro-social focus ofa medical consultation. Con- textualizing specific medication-related consultations within longer term relationships, and broader service systems enables recognition of the multiple processes, actors and agendas that shape how psychi- atric medication is prescribed, managed and used, and which may facilitate or impede SOM.

Conclusion A broad conceptualization of decision making for psy- chiatric medication that moves beyond the micro-social can account for why SOM in this domain remains a rarity. It has both conceptual and practical utility for evaluating research evidence, identifying future research priorities and highlighting fruitful ways of develop- ing and implementing SOM in mental health care.

1002 © 2015 The Authors Health Expectations Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 19, pp.1002-1014 This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license,

which permits use, distributlon and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work Is properly cited.

Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kamlnskiy and S Ramon 1003


Shared decision making (SOM) about treatment options is now a widely recognized aspect of patient-centred care that has become a modern health-care ideal internationally.1 In SOM patient and clinician discuss treatment options in a two-way exchange of information and knowl- edge (formal and experiential), and together decide on a course of action.2 This collaborative process is based on mutual respect, open commu- nication and consideration of individual preferences and values. In the UK, SDM is pro- moted in government policies,3 good practice guidance4 and initiatives to shape standard clinical practice. 5 A large body •of research has shown positive effects on patient satisfaction, treatment adherence, health status and health inequalities.6—-8

In the field of mental health,” SOM has received much less attention7-9 and remains a relative rarity in standard clinical practice. 10 A systematic review of SOM interventions in men- tal health found only two eligible studies and concluded that further research was urgently needed. 11 However, there is growing interest in SOM in mental health, which has increasingly featured in mental health policy and good prac- tice rhetoric, 12•13 and fits well with the ‘recovert approach that characterizes modern mental health-care ideals in many developed coun- tries.14-17 This patient-centred orientation promotes self-management and aims to support people to live well with and beyond their mental health problems, combining formal treatments with other well-being strategies. 18 Experiential knowledge is valued, and more equal, collab- orative practitioner-user relationships are promoted.

Despite these recent developments, shadows of a darker past still characterize many aspects of standard mental health practice. Forms of coercion from subtle persuasion to compulsory

3 \Ve focus in this paper on specialist mental health services, whilst acknowledging that many common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety arc managed exclu- sively in primary care. Some, but not all, of our arguments may apply to primary care settings.

hospitalization or community treatment orders (CTOs) are still relatively common. Many men- tal health service usersb remain disempowered, feel they have little voice in treatment decisions, or that these are not made in their interests, and experience stigma, 19 Whilst there may be moments of genuine lack of capacity, meaning- ful dialogue can also sometimes be compromised by practitioners’ assumptions about lack of insight associated with mental health problems. This may exaggerate inequalities between service users’ experiential knowledge and the scientific knowledge base of practitioners. These dynamics are most common when mental health problems are acute or severe (although they may not be explicitly acknowledged by service providers), but discrete experiences of threatened, perceived or actual coercion can erode service users’ long- term ability to trust and engage positively with services.

Our focus in this paper is specifically on SOM for psychiatric medication management within specialist mental health services. Psychiatric memcation (antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants and anxiolytics) is a mainstay of treatment for mental health problems, particu- larly for psychotic disorders and acute mental health crises. Again, there is a disjuncture between policy ideals and much of standard clin- ical practice. Whilst the value of patient choice and active involvement in medication decisions is emphasized in practice recommendations and policies, 13•20- 23 mental health service users com- monly report feeling uninvolved in decisions about medication and often feel they lack choice. 10•13•24•25 Medication can be bound up with forms of coercion: Service providers may persuade or pressure users to take medication, or to have long-acting ‘depot’ injections if they do not take oral medication as practitioners would like. Taking medication as prescribed can be a requirement of legally binding CTOs, or a determining factor of voluntary or compulsory hospital admission status.

hWe prefer ‘service user’ over ‘patient’ as this is the most commonly used term in mental health, and confers a more active role on the person.

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1004 Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kaminskiy and S Ramon

Medications such as antipsychotics, mood sta- bilizers and antidepressants are powerful drugs that are usually taken for long periods of time (often decades) and can produce a wide range of wanted and unwanted physical and psychologi- cal effects. Prescribing the most appropriate type and dose of medication is a complex process of negotiating uncertainties in diagnosis, individual responses and patient acceptability. These challenges make the combination of users’ expe- riential knowledge and practitioners’ clinical knowledge within SOM a valuable approach in achieving optimal medication use for an individ- ual. Simultaneously, the potential for psychiatric medication to be linked with coercion imposes different meanings and implications on these discussion compared to other forms of medicine- taking.

In this paper, we suggest that several character- istics of mental health care (and the use of psychiatric medication within this) mean it is problematic to uncritically apply conceptualiza- tions of SOM developed in other domains of health care to mental health contexts. This is because features such as disempowerment, forms of coercion, questions about service users’ 1in- sight’ and stigma, that are more prominent than in other health-care contexts, impact on the pro- cesses and possibilities of SOM. The majority of SDM work has had a primarily micro-social focus on doctm·-patient consultations,6126-28 We propose a conceptualization of decision making for psychiatric medication that moves beyond the micro-social, and contextualizes doctor-patient interactions ,vithin longer term relationship and treatment processes, and broader organizational contexts in which many of the unique aspects of mental health care are lived out. This area is in its infancy, and the research base is small 11 with con- siderable methodologically and disciplinary diversity, and little consensus on objectives, tar- get groups or outcomes. Therefore, a conceptual review that promotes critical thinking and con- ceptual clarification is timely, and arguably has more utility at this stage than a conceptually uncritical systematic review.

After a brief review of the prescription and management of psychiatric medication the

components of our broader conceptualization are set out. We use this to integrate and criti- cally evaluate existing evidence on SDM for psychiatric medication and to identify direc- tions for future research and clinical practice.

Psychiatric medication: prescription and use

Experiences of taking psychiatric medication

Although many service users report benefits of psychiatric medication, concerns about the impact of adverse effectsc on life quality, well- being and social functioning are common.29,30

Common negative effects include weight gain, drowsiness and mental clouding, reduced libido, involuntary movements and diabetes. Users can often find themselves swapping symptoms of mental ill health for another set of problems.24

Consequently, not taking medication as pre- scribed is widespread: between a third and a half of people do not take prescribed psychiatric medication at all, take less than the prescribed dose or stop taking it abruptly. 31 These prac- tices, especially abrupt stopping of medication, can be associated with deteriorations in mental health and increased likelihood ofrelapse.32

Psychiatrists are therefore justifiably wary of users not taking medication as prescribed, but they often fail to recognize this as part of posi- tive self-management strategies. Over time, many people learn to successfully tailor their medication in response to mental states and life events, integrating this into broader recovery and ‘personal medicine’ strategies. 33•34 1Purpose- ful non-adherence’ is a common strategy to minimize medication intake that is seldom dis- closed to prescribers. 35•36 Psychiatric medication carries complex and ambivalent meanings linked to identity and sense of self.37 Not taking medi- cation may be an attempt to regain control in response to negative or coercive experiences of mental health care: it can be a service user’s

ewe prefer the lerms ‘adverse’ or ‘negative’ effects O\’er the more commouly used ‘side effects’, as this risks diminishing their significance and centrality in users’ lives.

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Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kaminskiy and S Ramon 1005

‘trump card’, their only and ultimate source of resistance in a context of experienced powerless- ness and lack of choice.

Prescribing practices

Several concerns have been raised recently about high dose and overprescribing of psychiatric medication, and failure to follow prescribing guidelines. A significant proportion of UK users of antipsychotics are prescribed more than 100% of the recommended maximum dose. 10•20

Doses are often increased during a mental health crisis, but not reduced once the crisis is resolved. Polypharmacy is common, 10 bringing greater adverse effects risks associated ,vith drug interac- tions or higher overall doses. 38

Doubts about the balance of efficacy vs. adverse effects have been expressed, with argu~ ments that the efficacy of antipsychotics and other medications may have been overestimated, and the seriousness of adverse effects underesti- mated. 39 Adverse effects are likely to be more severe on high doses, and some can be irre- versible and associated with serious long-term negative health consequences.40.41 The dominant disease-targeting model of psychiatric medica- tion has been questioned, giving greater weight to users’ subjective experiences as the target of treatment, not just an interesting by-product42 • Research shows that many people can live well with no or low doses of medication, often by developing positive strategies for managing symptoms or within strong supportive networks.43.44 Within the UK public mental health system, there is little development of such approaches.

Prescriber-user discussions about medication

Medication is one of the most important deci- sional domains for mental health service users,45 but they report receiving little or insuf- ficient information about adverse effects, 10•29

diHi.culties in raising medication concerns with psychiatrists and low levels of involvement in medication decisions. 10•13•25•36 Micro-analytic studies of psychiatric consultations support

this. In several domains including medication, psychiatrists rarely use communication strate- gies that encourage SOM (although wide variations are found) and often use strategies to resist engagement with users’ concerns and questions.46•47 When discussing antipsychotics, they frequently fail to address users’ concerns about sedation and mental clouding, some- times by questioning the validity of patients’ interpretations.48 The ‘option set’ (the choices from which to decide) is often unilaterally defined by psychiatrists who may steer users towards a particular decision or mark one course of action as best.49 These studies sug- gest that psychiatric consultations often fail to support patient choice and SDM for psychi- atric medication and can be unequal in terms of participants’ access to information and means of persuasion, To understand this, we need to consider the multilevel factors that contribute to these processes.

A conceptual model of decision making for psychiatric medication

Our conceptualization of decision making for psychiatric medication builds on and extends the arguments of other commentators for broader SDM models that move beyond the micro-social, and includes factors such as pro- fessional ethics, accountability and treatment option constraints. 26•27•50 It provides a struc- tural representation of the domains within which features of mental health care that are unique, or more exaggerated than in other health-care domains, operate (e.g. forms of coercion, questions about ‘insight’, user disem- powerment) and impact on decision-making processes and possibilities for SDM (Fig. l). The micro-social processes of a psychiatric consultation are embedded within a longer term relationship, and a service context that includes other key players (professional and non-professional), and functional and cultural features of the mental health-care system. This

– is dynamic over time (so the three-dimensional components in Fig. l ), in recognition that mental ill health and its management may

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1006 Psychiatric medication management. N Morant, E Kaminskiy and S Ramon

Mental Health System

Support forums, SOc/al

General Pr,lctll/oner

netwotks Ck

Figure 1 Decision making for psychiatric medication. *e.g. community psychiatric nurse, social worker, pharmacist, psychologist, peer support worker.

evolve through periods of wellness and relapse, and SDM within this is a long-term process.

We propose this conceptualization as a heuristic framework that informs our research on SOM for psychiatric medication51 •52 and may enable other researchers to clarify and critically consider relevant interactive, rela- tional and systemic processes identified by work in shared decision making, mental health and medical sociology. It should not, however, be considered as a tool to guide specific clinical encounters. With modifications, it may also help researchers to conceptualize other treat- ment decisions in mental health or decision making for psychiatric medication managed in primary care settings. In the following sections, we discuss the inter-related components of this model.

The psychiatric consultation

At the micro-social level, we highlight two char- acteristics of medication discussions between practitioners and service users that may differ from standard models of SDM developed in other areas of health care. First, the status and value of mental health service uSers’ experiential knowledge is ambivalent. On the one hand, users are increasingly recognized as ‘experts by experi- ence’ within recovery-oriented practice, and their accounts of subjective experiences are acknowledged as essential to judging the impact of medication. One the other hand, if judged to lack capacity or insight, the validity of their views and subjective experiences can be ques- tioned or devalued. This may lead to treatment preferences being discounted, over-ruled or, at

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Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kaminskiy and S Ramon 1007

its extreme, choice being removed. This seldom happens ill’ other domains of health care, in which patients’ views are generally considered valid even if they disagree with practitioners.

Second, standard SDM models, in which building and reaching consensus about treat- ment are defining characteristics, 2 fail to capture the complex and conflictual processes that char- acterize some psychiatric consultations. When practitioner and service user fundamentally dis- agree about whether the person is mentally ill or medication is desirable, a shared decision accept- able to both parties may not be achievable. Treatment decisions that are weighted towards risk or safety concerns, and based on more than simply the interests of the individual, may place limitations on SDM, although services may be reluctant to acknowledge this explicitly. For example, choices between types of medication may be retained, but decisions to not take medi- cation, or to receive medication in tablet rather than depot form may be removed from the option set offered by practitioners. Attempting to maintain partnerships despite disagreements, and encouraging respectful and open discussions can allow these more challenging situations to conform to processes of SDM that may confer benefits,53 even if a shared decision as an out- come is not possible, such as when compulsory treatment is enforced. Thus, the possibilities for SDM within a single psychiatric consultation relate to agendas in the broader organizational and social context of mental health care.

Decision making within therapeutic relationships

Strong therapeutic relationships between mental health service users and practitioners are central to users’ experiences and treatment outcomes.54

Similarly, SDM processes rely on good thera- peutic relationships between practitioner and service user, 16•55 allowing discussions to broaden from simple ‘technical’ discussions of pros and cons, to co~constructing understandings of medi- cation in relation to a person’s life circumstances and goals.27 In turn, this may contribute to fur- ther enhancing partnerships and collaborations over the longer term. Within a recovery-oriented

framework, giving greater weight to service users’ experiential knowledge shifts the practi- tioner’s role from authority to coach offCring specialist knowledge, 15 such that decisions about medication become ‘an open experiment between two co-investigators’. 16·P· 1626 As peo- ple’s understanding of their mental ill health and its management develops over time, they may become increasingly empowered to participate as equal partners in discussions and choices about medication. Thus, SDM has the potential to be not just a means of deciding on treatment, but an important part of treatment itself, promoting agency and self-management, and potentially contributing to raising trust and improving therapeutic relationships. Progressive development of SOM within positive therapeutic relationships may protect against experiences of disempowerment or alienation from services in crisis situations, or when a person’s ability to participate in decisions is compromised.

Conversely, the association between therapeu- tic relationships and medication management practices can sometimes have mutually reinforc- ing negative impacts. Detrimental effects on therapeutic relationships have been found fol- lowing 2 years of taking medication by long- acting injection,55 and poor relationships with a prescriber and experiences of coercion during admission predict negative attitudes to antipsy- chotic treatment. 56 Such negative experiences erode trnst and may undermine future possibili- ties for SDM. Our research shows that fear of coercion is a barrier to mental health service users’ involvement in medication decisions, and prevents disclosure of symptoms or personal adaptations to medication use.51

Involvement of multiple stakeholders

Whilst the psychiatric consultation may be where final decisions about medication are made, much of the emotional, informational and evaluative work behind treatment preferences occurs outside this context, and is typically ‘dis- tributed’ within social networks.53•57 Family members can often collaborate positively in these processes, although their role has been

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1008 Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kaminskiy and S Ramon

under-acknowledged in both SDM research and mental health care. As well as local support net- works, internet forums are increasingly sources of emotional support, knowledge gain and confi- dence-building.

The role of other health practitioners has also been under-acknowledged in SOM models. 58

Psychiatric nurses, social workers, psychologists and peer support workers may meet mental health service users more regularly than prescribing psychiatrists, providing opportunities to discuss medication.59•60 Non-medical practi- tioners can make various contributions to medication deC!sions, including exploring con- cerns, preferences, aspirations and perceived benefits and problems of medication; providing support to seek out or understand medication information; helping service users prepare for psychiatric consultations by clarifying what they want to discuss; or accompanying them to con- sultations. In these ways, they may amplify the voice of service users who lack confidence to express their views honestly with psychiatrists. Our work suggests psychiatric nurses and care co-ordinators see themselves as ‘walking a shared journey’ with service users, are positive about SOM and may recognize the value of service users’ experiential knowledge more than psychia- trists,51 but often feel under-confident about having sufficient or appropriate medication knowledge to discuss choices in depth. 52 Primaiy care physicians or general practitioners (G.Ps) may also be involved in monitoring or prescrib- ing medication, and, for the antidepressants and anxiolytics, are often solely responsible for these tasks. However, they may be less knowledgeable about psychiatric medication than their psychi- atric colleagues, and reluctant to reduce or change doses recommended by psychiatrists.

The roles of various practitioners and sup- porters may vary across a person’s illness trajectory as they move between different part of the health system (for example, between primary and specialist services, or between inpatient and community-based care). Across service settings, users may encounter different opinions about medication and involvement in decision making, shaping their expectations for each new clinical

encounter. Medication-related decision making typically involves numerous knowledge-based, values-based and interactive processes dis- tributed over a network of stakeholders and supporters across contexts and time, with the service user as the constant factor.

The mental health system as the context for SOM

\Ve have already discussed features of contem- porary mental health-care systems that may facilitate SOM (policy rhetoric in support of patient choice, and recovery-oriented approaches), and those unique to mental health care that pre- sent challenges to SOM (forms of coercion, questions about insight and capacity). Processes and possibilities of SOM specifically for psychi- atric medication may be shaped by other systemic factors including: a short-term and risk- averse service culture thri.t prioritizes relapse avoidance over the potential harm of long-term medication use; reliance on biomedical models of mental illness that prioritize medication and medical expertise over other treatment strategies; dominance of a disease-targeting model of psy- chiatric medication that may obscure alternative explanations42; professional pessimism about long-term prognosis; lack of prescriber confi- dence about reducing or stopping medication61 ; the relationships of psychiatry with the pharma- ceutical industry; psychiatry’s broader societal role in regulating behaviour, and the use of medi- cation in this; and (particularly in the current UK context) resource limitations that reduce regular contact with psychiatrists.

Locating existing evidence within this conceptualization

This conceptualization of decision making for psychiatric medication can be used to evaluate, position and integrate relevant research from a range of disciplinary areas.

Stakeholders’ preferences and concerns

In keeping with the micro-social focus of much SDM research,26 a considerable amount of

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Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kaminskiy and S Ramon 1009

research has explored practitioners’ and service users’ preferences and concerns regarding medi- cation-related decision making. These are key facilitators or barriers to implementing SDM. Many mental health service users want more involvement in treatment decisions, and medica- tion decisions in particular. 24•25•62 Whilst there are individual differences in relationships with medication35 and decision making preferences,63

involvement preferences are not static traits, but related to experience and stages of illness. 64•65

Service users often prefer a more directive practi- tioner style in times of crisis.51 They may become more confident users of both medi- cation and services over time,37 especially if supported to develop greater autonomy and self- management skills. 15 This supports our dynamic conceptualization and suggests that SOM is not a ‘one size fits all’ process but should be tailored to the preferences, needs and illness stage of individuals.

For their part 1 psychiatrists express ‘cautious willingness’ about SOM;·P· 4 and some report already practicing aspects of SOM.61 •66 Practi- tioners’ reservations are most commonly about service users’ competence to participate in deci- sion making at some stages of their illness1


and that SDM will require more time,58•60•68

Some psychiatrists think medication decisions are less suitable for SOM than other care deci- sions,66 and fear that discussing adverse effects could discourage medication use.61 Little is known about the views of non-medical mental health practitioners,68 or about family car- ers’ views.

Interventions to enhance SOM

Compared to the wealth of SOM work in other health domains,6 only a small number of studies exist in mental health. 11 Those focusing on or including ffiedication decisions have pro- duced some positive results using interventions targeted at various practitioners (not just pre- scribing psychiatrists). A randomized trial of SOM training for nurses and psychiatrists in inpatient settings showed that nursing support to use a decision aid in advance of psychiatric

consultations increased acutely unwell service users’ knowledge and decisional involvement.69

However, involvement was not sustained over time, a fact attributed by the authors to the one- off nature of the intervention. Other studies have recognized the value of interventions targeting longer term processes. For example, structuring meetings around users’ needs and concerns in several domains including medication over a 12- month period produced positive effects on sub- jective life quality, unmet needs and treatment satisfaction.70 Training care co-ordinators in effective medication management using SDM principles led to improvements in clinical symp- toms and service user involvement, and reductions in antipsychotic doses,’ depots and polyphannacy after 9 months.71 However, a sole focus on practitioner training and reliance on practitioners to encourage user participation risk the impact on service users being potentially diluted by poor practitioner implementation and omit the training needs of service users to enable confident and active decisional involvement.

A promising intervention that targets service users directly is ‘Common Ground’.72 Devel-‘ oped in the USA, this provides computerized recovery-oriented information and medication- related decision aids. A report on the person’s concerns, preferences and goals is reviewed in a psychiatric consultation and used to guide subsequent courses of action. Increased involve- ment in medication decisions and disclosure of information and concerns that users found diffi- cult to tell psychiatrists directly were found. 72

When implemented in 12 outpatient clinics, the programme was used by 85% of service users and was associated with increases in self- reported overall health and perceived helpful- ness of psychiatric medication, and reductions in symptoms and concerns about negative medica- tion effects.73 This suggests a valuable role in improving the tailoring of medication to individ- uals’ needs.

Our conceptualization of decision making for psychiatric medication suggests that inter- ventions directly targeting both sides of practitioner-service user dyads (or indeed all stakeholders in decisional processes) have the

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1010 Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kaminskiy and S Ramon

greatest potential to impact on established roles and interactive processes in a psychiatric consul- tation. Our current ‘ShiMME’ project is unique in providing SDM training simultaneously to service users, psychiatrists and multidisciplinary care co-ordinators.52 Both ‘ShiMME’ and ‘Common Ground’ avoid the pitfalls of an exclusively micro-social focus by taking account of facilitators and barriers to SDM within the mental health system. Whilst inequalities of knowledge and power can be barriers to involvement in general health care,74 our con- ceptualization highlights how greater levels of disempowennent, stigma and coercion in mental health settings may exaggerate barriers to involvement. Therefore, peer support and confi- dence-building are central to ‘ShiMME’ training which is provided in group format by user- trainers. 52 Institutional inequalities are also addressed by including user perspectives in prac- titioner training. In ‘Common Ground’ peer workers provide support in using the computer package and exploring and articulating con- cerns. Both projects capitalize on facilitative factors within the organizational culture, by integrating SDM with other well-being, recovery and self-management strategies. ‘Common Ground’ also engages with structural limitations of the organizational context by reconfiguring outpatient clinics to include a ‘Decision Support Centre’ and scheduling time in advance of psy- chiatric appointments for service users to work with peers ,vithin this. This enables consultation times to remain the same whilst focussing them more efficiently on service users’ concerns.

Implications for research and clinical practice

More research is needed on interventions to pro- mote SDM for psychiatric medication, and on implementation and sustainability issues. Speci- fic gaps in our knowledge include the potential contributions of non-prescribing mental health practitioners, G.Ps, peer workers and family car- ers, and the feasibility and limitations of SDM in acute care settings and at times of mental health crisis when coercion is most likely.

Based on our broad conceptualization, SDM interventions that target all involved parties (not just one member of practitioner-service user dyads) and decision making over time (rather than single or one-off decisions), and acknowledge structural, cultural and functional facilitators and barriers in the mental health sys- tem are most likely to produce positive effects. For example, simply providing trustworthy and understandable medication information or deci- sion aids may be insufficient to enable active and equal service user participation in decisions, unless accompanied by strategies to counter existing asymmetries with practitioners.74 Confi- dence-building and empowerment should be core components of SDM initiatives for service users. SDM initiatives also need to be com- patible with current mental health service configurations. For example, in the UK context, typically infrequent contact with a psychiatrist may offer limited scope for all aspects of SDM, but opportunities exist for other practitioners to implement components of SDM, such as explor- ing values and goals or accessing user- friendly information.

The training needs of these practitioners in medication knowledge and SOM-related skills need to be recognized and addressed. This should include learning more about service users’ experiences of medication, the positive strategies they use to tailor medication intake to individual needs and life circumstances, their use of other well-being strategies and their social support and informational resources. Training should explicitly address how the standard ‘script’ of practitioner-service user meetings is challenged by SDM, and the dilemmas raised by marrying up SDM with professional account- ability and risk considerations in complex or conflictual clinical situations.’2•40 Although many practitioners believe they already practice elements of SDM,58 discrepancies with service users’ ratings of involvement suggest they may be unaware of institutional or individual failures to support involvement. Existing provider-user inequalities i_n mental health, and ways of valu- ing both scientific and experiential forms of knowledge should be considered. Given that

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Psychiatric medication management, N Morant, E Kam!nskiy and S Ramon 1011

practitioners and users often disagree about the role and value of psychiatric medication, train- ing should consider how interactive processes that are part of SOM (e.g. exploring values, valuing experience) can be maintained when agreement cannot be reached, or when interests other than the service user’s shape treatment decisions. This is important because the stron- gest desire for more involvement has been found among those with negative views of psychiatric medication and treatment,62 who potentially have much to gain from new forms of dialogue or engagement with service provi- ders. Finally, professionals should learn to encourage and offer SDM as much as possible, whilst being sensitive to individual preferences and their variations related to current illness status. 75

Collectively, service providers should con- sider: how decision aids and other SOM tools (e.g. medication diaries, comparative medica- tion information) can be best integrated into clinical practice; resources to help service users prepare for time-limited and infrequent con- sultations with prescribers; and whether service reconfigurations may be necessary to support SOM. Acceptability of SOM initia- tives and implementation in clinical practice may be greater if practitioners’ preconceptions about SOM are acknowledged. Resistance may stem from fears of relapse if users stop taking medication; the balance between positive risk-taking and professional account- ability; and ceding professional power. Overstretched practitioners’ concerns about SOM requiring additional time may be allayed by evidence that this is not the case,47•58•69•70 especially if accompanied by ser- vice reconfigurations. 72


SOM has the potential to alleviate problem- atic aspects of current psychiatric medication management. It offers greater choice and consid- eration of a broader range of treatment options and may produce better tailoring of medication to individuals’ needs, preferences, lifestyle and

stage of illness, with knock-on effects on health and social functioning. Medical support of graded reductions or changes in medication may be more successful and less likely to lead to relapse than if users unilaterally decide to stop taking medication. Fundamentally, people are more likely to stick with a course of action they are happy with, or feel they have been involved in deciding upon.

Despite this, SOM for psychiatric medication remains an exception rather than the norm in clinical practice. Our conceptual model of deci- sion making for psychiatric medication has potential to explain this. We have shown that providing a more sophisticated account of the multilevel factors shaping medication decisions than existing SOM models that have a de- contextualized focus on micro-social processes enables us to:

I. highlight features of the mental health system and psychiatric medication management that differ from, or are more exaggerated than in other health care domains (e.g. the potential for coercion, the status of experiential knowl- edge), and the impact of these on decision- making processes;

2. incorporate both the current realities of psy- chiatric medication management and more collaborative fonns of these processes;

3. highlight multilevel facilitators and barriers to SDM, and changes in processes and prac- tices at interactive, relational and systemic levels needed to develop more shared forms of medication management;

4. integrate a broad range of theoretical and empirical work relevant to this topic from mental health research, medicine and medical sociology.

By adopting a broader conceptual framework, we can view SDM for psychiatric medication as entailing a number of related processes both within, and also beyond the psychiatric consulta- tion: service users being provided with, or autonomously seeking out medication informa- tion, or being supported to do so by individuals and social networks within and beyond the men- tal health system; acquiring confidence to voice

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1012 Psychiatric medication management, N Morant. E Kaminskiy and S Ramon

their medication experiences and preferences, and potentially disagree with prescribers; and collaborative co-investigations of medication options between a service user and one or more practitioners. Many of these process challenge established provider-user roles and relationships and may require organizational and cultural shifts. Our model aims to facilitate conceptual and practical developments, and may help to narrow the current gap between theoretical and policy ideals, and clinical realities in an impor- tant area of mental health practice.


\Ve are grateful to ‘ShiMME’ project team mem- bers and service users and practitioners who participated in ‘ShiMME’. We thank Amy Li and Rod Rivers for their contributions. ‘ShiMME’ is funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Research for Patient Ben- efit Programme (PB-PG-0909-20054). The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIH R, NHS or the Department of Health.


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